Jury trial scheduled for suspended Virginia Tech football player indicted for murder charge

New River Valley News

(Photo: Courtesy Blacksburg Police Department)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The dates have been set for a 2022 jury trial involving Isimemen Etute, the suspended Virginia Tech football player indicted for murder after the death of a Blacksburg man in May.

Police say they arrested Etute after finding 40-year-old Jerry Paul Smith’s body on June 1 during a welfare check. The medical examiner says Smith died from blunt force injuries to the head.

According to Virginia Tech, Etute was placed on interim suspension as of June 2, which affected his standing with the Hokies football team.

At his bond hearing on June 9, the judge granted Etute a $75,000 bond, which prosecutors originally appealed, but that was quickly dropped.

Under an agreement, Etute was allowed out on bond, but was set to remain under house arrest and electronic monitoring at his parents’ house in Virginia Beach, prosecutors say.

During Etute’s preliminary hearing on Sept. 23, the court heard from several witnesses, including three Blacksburg Police Department detectives who shared details about the crime scene, the process of identifying Smith’s body, and the interview with Etute.

According to the investigators, Etute said he and Smith had a sexual encounter in Smith’s apartment after meeting on Tinder on April 10. However, Smith was reportedly posing as a woman named Angie both on the dating app and during their encounter.

Police say Etute told them he went back to Smith’s apartment on May 31 to determine if “Angie” was a man or a woman.

The prosecution previously alleged that Etute became enraged upon realizing that “Angie” was a man, punched Smith several times in the face, and stomped on Smith with enough force to break every bone in his face.

However, when asked if Etute stomped on Smith, a detective said that Etute told him he hit Smith several times, Smith fell to the floor, and Etute accidentally stepped on Smith while trying to step over him.

When the police told Etute what happened to Smith after he left the apartment, investigators said Etute broke down both physically and emotionally.

During September’s hearing, the defense asked to drop the second-degree murder charge and downgrade it to voluntary manslaughter, but the judge overruled the motion.

The case went to a grand jury at Montgomery Circuit Court on Oct. 26, which returned a true bill indicting Etute for a charge of second-degree murder in connection with Smith’s death.

A joint motion hearing for Etute was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18, but the court clerk’s office told WFXR News that Thursday’s hearing will not be taking place.

As of this writing, court records say that Etute’s jury trial is set to begin on May 25, 2022.

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