FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Members of a Ukrainian refugee family appeared in a South Florida courtroom on Wednesday.
That’s where they are facing hate crime and attempted murder charges for an alleged family ambush.
Police say Oleh Makarenko was in a nine-month homosexual relationship, which would end with his lover being beaten so badly by Makarenko’s family that the victim became blind.
Authorities allege that Oleh Makarenko, who is also known as Alex, was being forced to marry a woman by his mother.
“I don’t believe it at all, I have proof,” Christina Herman said. “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.”
Herman was in tears, saying her 21-year-old fiancé loves her and is the love of her life, and his family would never beat man up for being gay.
But police say Makarenko’s family became enraged when they found out he was in a gay relationship for nine months.
On Aug. 6, three members of the Makarenko family barged into the victims home, according to police.
A police report stated that, “All four of the suspects continued holding him and began punching, kicking, and hitting him all over his face and body.”
The victim allegedly told Makarenko’s mother, “Unfortunately, your son is gay.”
The victim said that the reason for this attack was because he was a homosexual, because he was dating Makarenko, and the family felt that he made Makarenko a homosexual, according to the report.
Makarenko’s 17-year-old sister believes her family could never do such a horrible thing.
“They don’t deserve this,” Diana Makarenko said of her family. “No innocent person should go through that.”
An attorney for the family argues that the victim didn’t point the finger at the Makarenko family until long after the alleged beating took place.
“He didn’t implicate this family until seven months after the incident,” said attorney Mike Glasser.
Police said the reason for that is the alleged victim was afraid and didn’t want to get Oleh Makarenko in trouble.
This family is now facing attempted first-degree murder charges with a hate crime enhancement. All three face possible life sentences.