FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Prosecutors say they have filed hate crime charges against three family members accused of severely beating a man because of his sexual orientation.
Forty-four-year-old Inna Makarenko, 43-year-old Yevhen Makarenko and their son, 21-year-old Oleh Makarenko, were each charged Tuesday with attempted first-degree murder, battery during the burglary of a dwelling and kidnapping.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for Wednesday.
All three face possible life sentences.
Prosecutors say the three family members broke into a Pompano Beach home last August and beat a 31-year-old gay man so badly that he has become permanently blinded and sustained other serious injuries.
Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested the group on March 10, and they’re being held without bond.
The suspects’ loved ones say they believe the family, who have lived in Pompano Beach since 2016, is innocent.
A family friend released this statement: “All we know is they are 100% 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.”
Their loved ones fear that “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t apply to refugees. Amid the Russia-Ukraine war and the millions of Ukrainian refugees in need, the prospect of deportation lingers with fear.
The family’s supporters set up a Change.org petition and they are asking the public for help.
READ BELOW: Indictment against Makarenko family.