Charges dropped against Florida family accused of blinding gay man who was dating their son

The entire Makarenko family prison head shots. Inna, the mother to the left, Oleh, the son in the middle, and Yevhen, the father to the right.

Florida prosecutors have dropped charges against a family accused of brutally attacking a gay man – left blind as a result of his injuries – because he’d been in a relationship with their son.

Yevhen Makarenko, his wife Inna and their adult son Oleh had each been charged with attempted murder, burglary and kidnapping in relation to an August 2021 beating of a gay man in his apartment in Pompano Beach, Florida. 

Florida prosectors filed hate crime charges against the family members in April 2022, accusing them of attacking the gay man “based on his sexual orientation” because he was in a relationship with their adult son. 

The Broward State Attorney’s Office said the victim, who has remained anonymous, was “permanently blinded and sustained other serious injuries” as a result of the incident. 

On Tuesday (20 February), officials announced the charges against the three members of the Makarenko family were being dropped as the Broward State Attorney’s Office had decided not to continue with the legal case, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Assistant state attorney Veronica Walker wrote in a memorandum outlining the decision that, though it’s “apparent that a crime was committed”, there is “no likelihood of a conviction that these defendants committed such crimes”. 

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The Makarenkos consistently denied the allegations against them, accusing the victim of being a “liar”

Defence attorney George Palaidis said there was evidence that the Marakenkos were “all at home” when the attack occurred. The prosecution acknowledged cellphone records failed to place the family members at the crime scene. 

Law enforcement found the victim at his Pompano Beach home in August 2021. The gay man initially told Florida officials that he was drinking and fell, but he later claimed that he’d been attacked by members of the Makarenko family. 

The man told deputies the reason for the alleged attack was because of his relationship with Oleh, who he’d been dating for several months. He claimed Oleh’s family disapproved of the relationship and believed he “turned” their son gay.

However, Walker said prosecutors were unable to corroborate significant portions of the victim’s account because he waited months to make the allegations against the Makarenkos, the Sun Sentinel reported. 

The man, who has since moved away from Broward County, told police that he didn’t get his memories of the events back until six months after the alleged attack. 

Officials said crucial evidence was lost, including a surveillance video from the victim’s apartment complex, due to this delay. 

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