Continuance Granted in Alleged Hate Crime and Attempted Murder Case

July 5, 2022 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes

A family of four has been accused of brutally beating a man nearly to death, and causing him to go almost completely blind. The 31-year-old victim is hiding his identity with the protection of Marsy’s Law, but has decided to press charges six months after the attack.

The case is being considered a hate crime by the police, since the family’s supposed motive was because of the victim’s sexuality. Specifically, that the victim had been dating their son and “turned him gay.”

Florida has had plenty of debates in the last several years regarding LGBTQ+ issues. With the “Don’t Say Gay” law getting signed into law by Gov. DeSantis earlier this year. The case is still ongoing and has just been granted a continuance. However, we will cover its current details, along with the various criminal charges the family is currently facing.

What was the Incident?

On August 6th, 2021, a 31-year-old man residing in Pompano Beach was severely beaten in his home. His identity remains anonymous under his rights through Marsy’s Law. The man was found in his home almost 14 hours after the alleged beating when a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy saw the door to his apartment left wide open. The officer found the man lying in a pool of his own blood.

After being rushed to the hospital, the man told police that he had fallen over after drinking. However, the man suffered extreme injuries, including brain swelling, severe bruising, fractures in his facial bones, a fractured jaw, and a concussion. He is also now almost completely blind, likely to never recover his full sight again. In total, the medical bills have exceeded $100,000. 

Almost six months after the incident, the man called the police and claimed that his memory returned. This is when he accused the Makarenko family of the brutal attack. The victim claims that the family of four entered his home and beat him nearly blind for “making their son gay.”

The 31-year-old victim had been in a relationship with the family’s youngest son, Oleh Makarenko, 21, since sometime in late 2020. Oleh had supposedly spent a lot of time with the man, even obtaining a key to his apartment and often sleeping over. Their relationship shifted during the summer of 2021, when Oleh’s father, Yevhen, found out about the relationship.

The arrest warrant quoted that the father was “treating [Oleh] poorly and not accepting him…[and] was going to force him to marry a woman.”

On the day of the attack, the victim found it odd that Oleh asked for his address, even though he had already been there multiple times. Around 1 am, the man opened his gate and was surprised to see the rest of Oleh’s family entering the premise, which he recognized from photos Oleh had previously shown him.

Oleh nervously shouted, “Go inside!” before the family chased him and forced their way into the man’s home. After this, supposedly all four family members “continued holding [the victim] and began punching, kicking, and hitting [him] all over his face, head, and body.”

The victim reported that he said, “Unfortunately, your son’s gay” to the mother, Inna. Oleh’s mother then grabbed an unknown object and struck the victim in the face. The man then pretended to be dead, in hopes that the family would stop beating him and leave. He was then left on the floor for almost 14 hours before the deputy found him. The victim is now permanently blind and has to undergo several more surgeries for these lasting injuries.

According to the Broward State Attorney’s Office, multiple charges have been filed against the Makarenko family since the incident. Yevhen, Inna, and Oleh Makarenko have all been charged with attempted first-degree murder, battery during the burglary of a dwelling, and kidnapping. In addition, the charges were filed as hate crimes since it was a direct attack on the victim’s sexual orientation. The document states that the maximum possible penalty for each of the family members is a life sentence in state prison.

The second son, Vladyslav, 25, was transferred from Alabama to the Broward County jail system. However, his case has recently been thrown out, because he was able to prove he was out of the state at the time of the hate crime.

Defense’s Arguments and Granted Continuance

Mike Glasser is the family’s current defense attorney in the case. Glasser’s initial argument was that there was no physical evidence or any DNA at the scene linking the family to the crime. He also claimed that the family did not know about the victim’s identity until after they were arrested.

In addition, Glasser says that there are phone records to prove that the family was not near the crime scene the morning of the crime. “They were home. They were sleeping like all of us were,” Glasser said. “If I asked you to prove where you were on August 6th of last year at 1 am, I think it would be very hard to prove it to say I was home, I was sleeping, check my phone records.”

Glasser is also pushing that the victim’s six-month waiting period to call the police is a sign of the family’s innocence. There are supporters backing the Ukrainian family, with an online petition reaching almost 400 signatures to secure their innocence.  

One of the people proclaiming the family’s innocence is Oleh’s now fiancé, Christina Herman. In an interview with WPLG, she said she does not believe that Oleh is gay. “I have proof,” Herman declared. “I wear a ring which is an engagement and one kind of marriage ring. I know Alex has his ring in jail. That is proof to me. I know we are in a relationship.”

Broward Sheriff’s Detective Conor Ryan wrote in the warrant that the allegations and physical injury to the victim vote towards a hate crime. “The crime was a senseless and unprovoked attack done onto a homosexual man, just due to the mere fact that he was homosexual,” Ryan wrote.

The most recent update in the Makarenko case is that a Broward County judge has granted a continuance until August 5th. A continuance means a delay, postponement, or rescheduling of a trial or other court proceeding.

Glasser commented that the delay will grant more time for the evidence to “reveal itself” and to exonerate his clients. “I credit the state in particular the prosecutor, MR Torres, immensely for his open-mindedness to reconsider to view the evidence in a neutral light and we’re pleased with what’s going on.”

As of now, both Oleh and his father remain in Broward County custody. Inna was able to bond out of jail, however, has since been placed on immigration hold by ICE.

Hate Crimes in Florida

A hate crime is defined under the Florida Uniform Crime Reporting Program as a “committed or attempted person or the property of another person or group, in which any constitutes an expression of hatred.” The expression of hatred towards the alleged victim is due to his or her personal identity or characteristics. The following is a list of personal characteristics:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Ancestry
  • National Origin
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Age
  • Mental/Physical Disability
  • Homeless Status

Under Florida Statute Section 775.085(1), the law reclassifies and misdemeanor or felony if there is evidence that there is a prejudice based on any of the above personal characteristics. With the reclassification, the following charges and their penalties are increased:

  • A second-degree misdemeanor is reclassified to a first-degree misdemeanor
  • A first-degree misdemeanor is reclassified to a third-degree felony
  • A third-degree felony is reclassified to a second-degree felony
  • A second-degree felony is reclassified to a first-degree felony
  • A first-degree felony is reclassified to a life felony

Burglary with Battery

Florida Statute Section 810.02 defines burglary as when an individual enters and remains in a structure, dwelling, or conveyance with the intent to commit a crime inside. This only applies to private premises, and not public spaces.

Burglary is considered a first-degree felony if the offender or offenders have committed assault or battery on the alleged victim. Other factors that characterize burglary as a first-degree felony are if the defendant was armed or becomes armed with a weapon or explosive while inside the private dwelling, or if there was more than $1,000 in damages caused to the private property. The penalty for a first-degree felony is up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of a crime, reach out to a skilled defense attorney in your area. Your best bet at building a strong defense for your case and ensuring your freedom is to work with an experienced Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. We will stand by your side throughout the entire process and work towards earning your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today for a free consultation

Written by Karissa Key

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