The defendant speaks with his family of brutally beating a gay man for reasons of hate

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – This is the first time we’ve heard from a member of a family of five who was charged and jailed for a brutal hate crime. It’s a high-profile case, but the defense attorney says what’s at stake now is the victim’s credibility.

“I feel like I’m about to cry because I’m reaching out to people who care about it. It is a nightmare, to say the least, what has happened to me”, says Vlad Makarenko. “I feel like it’s the worst time of my life, but after all I’m just thankful for God’s presence.”

A mother, father and three of their children have been arrested in connection with a beating that left a gay man blind.

“I feel very bad for my mother, she is emotionally devastated. You imagine? She is from Ukraine. Her sister died and her grandmother died and she knows that all her children are in jail”. Vlad Makarenko said.

He was released from jail after his attorney Mike Glasser was able to provide the state with information that Vlad was out of state at the time of the alleged crime.

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“Now we have a situation where one of the people who presumably swore he was there in the middle of this beating was in another state,” Glasser said.

The victim initially told police that he had fallen. Only six months after the beating did he implicate the family

Prosecutors maintain that the victim changed her story because she was afraid.

They say that Oleh Makarenko had a nine-month relationship with the victim in this case.

Police: “Do you think the reason you went… all this happened to you and why they came to you was because you’re gay?”

“Because I’m gay, yeah, because I’m gay you know, and they thought or think I made their son gay. “

Vlad maintains that his family is innocent.

“They treat you like dirt and it shouldn’t be like that,” Vlad said.

The defense will continue to argue for the family and say that if the alleged victim was wrong about this, what else was he wrong about?

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