Three family members are facing hate crime charges in connection to a brutal attack that left a gay man permanently blind.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office in Miami announced on Tuesday (12 April) that Inna (44), Yevhen (43) and Oleh Makarenko (21) had been formally charged on counts of first-degree attempted murder, burglary with battery and kidnapping.
All charges against the three defendants, described as parents and son in local reports, have been filed as hate crimes, and they all face up to life in prison on each count if convicted.
The charges relate to an attack on a 31-year-old gay man on 6 August, 2021 in Pompano Beach who was reportedly “abducted” and “terrorised”.
The man was beaten so badly that he is now permanently blind and has sustained other serious injuries as a result of the attack.
Prosecutors believe the victim, who has declined to be named publicly, was attacked because of his sexual orientation.
The family members have been in jail since March and have pleaded not guilty to the charges, Miami Herald reported.
One court document seen by the outlet alleged that the three suspects brandished a “firearm or other deadly weapon” during the attack.
According to arrest forms seen by CBS Miami, prosecutors believed the attack was premeditated. The forms alleged the three Makarenko’s “secretly, forcibly or by threat abducted or imprisoned the victim against his will… to terrorise him”.
The arrest documents claimed the three “struck the victim numerous times” causing “serious bodily injury and disfigurement, almost resulting in his death”.
Prosecutors also believed Oleh “drove the vehicle” and helped get “them inside the property”, WSVN reported.
“He witnessed the incident, made no attempts to intervene during a 14-hour period after the incident, made no calls for 911 to have the victim get medical assistance,” a prosecutor said.
A fourth family member, Vladyslav Makarenko (25), was arrested in Alabama and extradited to Florida’s Broward County Jail on Monday (11 April). Prosecutors said they are reviewing the case against him and could possibly face hate crime charges as well.
All four family members are jailed without bond, and the investigation is still ongoing.
CBS Miami reported that there were signs taped to the family’s mailbox with a QR code leading to an online petition that has been created on behalf of the Makarenkos.
The petition, which was created by close family friends to the Makarenkos, called on the public to help an “Innocent Christian Refugee Family from Ukraine” that is “being held in Jail” on “False Criminal Accusations”.
It claimed the family members, who “came to the USA as refugees from Ukraine six years ago”, are being “accused of severe crimes with multiple charges against them”.
A family friend told Local 10: “All we know is they are 100 per cent innocent and we have proof of that, but it’s just sad to see how they can just take an entire family like that — just based on accusations — and there is nothing we can do at this point now because it’s in the legal hands.”
According to CBS Miami, Yevhen, Oleh and Inna are scheduled to be in court on 13 April.