Former Virginia Tech Football Player Goes On Trial For Murder Of Cross-Dressing Man
Isimemen Etute / Montgomery County Police Department
Isimemen Etute / Montgomery County Police Department

The murder trial of a former Virginia Tech football player who allegedly killed a cross-dressing man begins on Wednesday.

Isimemen Etute faces a second-degree murder charge over the May 2021 death of 40-year-old Jerry Smith, which will take place in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

“Etute said he visited Smith’s apartment that April after he was matched with someone named ‘Angie’ on Tinder, and returned on May 31 to determine whether his match was male or female, attorneys and witnesses said at earlier hearings,” ESPN reported.

“A detective testified that Etute groped Smith and used his phone’s flashlight to get a better look in the dark apartment before repeatedly punching the victim, according to court records,” the report added.

During a June hearing, prosecutors noted that Smith and Etute had known each other for a brief time prior to the incident.

“Prosecutors say Etute met Smith through a dating app, but the 18-year-old thought that Smith was a woman named Angie. The pair met, at which time Smith reportedly gave Etute oral sex,” according to WRIC-TV.

The graphic nature of the brutal attack was described in a local WDBJ report.

“The Commonwealth’s Attorney says Etute punched Smith five times in the head, making Smith fall, at which point Etute stepped on Smith’s head until blood was bubbling from him,” WDBJ-TV reported. “An exam indicated every bone in Smith’s face was broken, and he had missing and broken teeth.”

Etute was released on a $75,000 bond last June. He was placed “under house arrest and electronic monitoring while living with his family in Virginia Beach,” the Associated Press reported.

He was also suspended from the university and the football team during the pending investigation.

Etute has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He could face a sentence of between 12 and 20 years in prison if convicted, according to state sentencing guidelines, USA Today reports.

“Etute admitted to hitting Angie – who family members later identified as an openly gay man named Jerry Paul Smith – five times with his right hand, then kicking him in the face when he was on the ground, according to excerpts of an interview with police included in a federal search warrant application,” the USA Today reported.

“He claimed that Smith wasn’t talking when he left the apartment but appeared to be breathing and ‘making noises.’ Only later, Etute told police, did he notice the blood on his sandals,” the outlet added. A family member claimed to find Smith’s body the next day.

The former Virginia Tech player may also face federal hate crime charges in Smith’s death. In March, unsealed warrants showed an FBI agent requested data from Etute’s cell phone, Tinder account, and the cell phones of three other Virginia Tech players in June 2021.

The investigation was conducted regarding potential violations of federal Hate Crime Acts, according to WFXR-TV.

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