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Florida Prosecutors Drop Case Against Fifth Family Member In Alleged Hate Crime Beating Of Gay Man

Prosecutors had initially sworn out arrest warrants for five members of the Makarenko family in an August 2021 incident that left a gay man permanently blind. They've now declined to prosecute Pavlo Makarenko and dropped charges against his twin brother, Vladyslav.

By Megan Carpentier
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Florida prosecutors have announced that they are not seeking formal charges against the fifth member of a Miami-area family who was quietly arrested in another state for allegedly participating in a hate crime for which his parents and brothers were charged.

Officials in Broward County, Florida had issued an arrest warrant for Pavlo Makarenko, now 26, on March 9, according to a memorandum issued by the prosecutor's office and reviewed by Oxygen.com. That corresponds to the timing of the original arrest warrants issued for his parents, Yevhen Makarenko, 43, and Inna Makarenko, 44, as well as his twin brother, Vladyslav Makarenko, 26, and Oleh Makarenko, 22.

The warrants were all issued for attempted murder, kidnapping and battery charges. Vladyslav Makarenko was arrested in Alabama and then extradited to Florida, according to a press release issued by the prosecutor's office in April. The press release and associated publicly available documents didn't mention Pavlo Makarenko at all.

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Formal hate crime charges were filed against Yevhen, Inna and Oleh Makarenko in April, while Vladyslav Makarenko was formally charged in May, according to court records reviewed by Oxygen.com, though the charges against him were ultimately dropped.

(L-R) Inna Makarenko and Yevhen Makarenko

Prosecutors allege that the family had became upset by Oleh's relationship with a 31-year-old man, which the man said had been going on for nine months. The victim said that four people in the family had entered his apartment in August 2021, berated him for being gay and being in a relationship with Oleh and beat him so severely that he was on a ventilator for three weeks, required multiple surgeries and will never regain his eyesight.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that text messages show Oleh Makarenko and the victim had a romantic relationship and that his family was aware and disapproved.

Oleh Makarenko's reported fiancée insisted to Miami ABC affiliate WPLG in April after the family's arrests that Oleh wasn't gay.

“I don’t believe it at all, I have proof,” Christina Herman told the station. “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.”

The victim allegedly told police that Oleh said his mother was going to force him to marry a woman.

Prosecutors formally withdrew the charges against Vladyslav Makarenko on June 16, after his lawyers provided prosecutors with evidence that their client wasn't even in the state at the time of the attack. He was released the following day.

“I was in Georgia when it happened,” Vladyslav Makarenko told Oxygen.com in an interview in July. He also revealed at that time that his twin brother, Pavlo, had also been arrested in New York on a warrant for attempted murder, kidnapping and battery charges — though he was not incarcerated at the time of Oxygen.com's interview with Vladyslav.

According to the documents now provided to Oxygen.com, Pavlo Makarenko was arrested in New York on June 1. Bond was set in the case on June 28 and the state of Floria declined to pursue his extradition "pending the ongoing investigation of his involvement in the crimes presented."

On Tuesday, the state notified the court that it was declining to file charges against Pavlo Makarenko in the case. Citing "cell phone records and the historical data," they said they state "will not be able to prove the identification of Pavlo Makarenko beyond a reasonable doubt."

Formal charges are still pending against Yevhen, Inna and Oleh Makarenko and they are due back in court on Friday.