This is an unfortunate story of a Tinder date gone wrong to the utmost. A promising Virginia Tech student and football player for the school is now suspended from both the team and the school as he was arrested and charged with second-degree murder after a hook-up was met with unexpected surprises.
Eighteen-year-old Isimemen Etute is a young man from Virginia Beach who graduated early from Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach and enrolled at Virginia Tech with a major in human development, the school newspaper reports. He made the decision to enter that particular university midyear after being courted by multiple other prestigious schools and having been offered 12 different scholarships. According to Yahoo! Sports, Etute was a 2-star recruit for the Hokies football team and served as a linebacker as they had been looking to recruit him for a year and a half.
At some point Etute logged on to Tinder and matched with someone whose profile claimed to be a women by the name of “Angie.” Things would begin to take an unfortunate turn in his life when the 18-year-old and “Angie” met at the latter’s apartment on April 10th, multiple reports state, and Etute received or*l s*x. The date seemingly went without incident.
However, a second encounter between the two would end up fatal, as reported by The Roanoke Times. On May 31st, the pair decided to meet up again for further sexual activity, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan, who proceeded to share details from the cops as told by Etute. It was at this moment that Etude discovered that “Angie” was really a man.
The man turned out to be 40-year-old Jerry Paul Smith of Blacksburg, Virginia. Investigators cite according to Etute, that upon the discovery he reacted by punching him five times in the face. Smith then hit the ground and Etute continued to punch him and “stomped” on him. Upon leaving the apartment, Etute heard “bubbling and gurgling”, but proceeded to leave without calling the authorities. The Roanoke Times reports that Etute told the police that he was not assaulted by Smith.
Coincidentally, Etute was pulled over on Memorial Day at around 4 pm for reckless driving and failure to obey a stop sign, although it is unclear whether the incident happened before or after the traffic stop. He has a scheduled hearing for July 22nd in Radford for those particular charges.
Two days later Jerry Smith, who was reportedly a restaurant worker, was discovered dead in his apartment at around 10:30 pm after officers responded to a wellness check. An investigation swiftly began as his face was found severely bloodied. An autopsy revealed fractures in the cranium, several missing teeth, and broken bones in the face, the Washington Post reports.
While Etute does not have a criminal record, Smith is noted to have past convictions including petty larceny, filing a false police report, public intoxication, driving under the influence, and reckless driving among others. Upon his death, he was also rumored to be a relative of Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith.
However, Hager-Smith sent out a tweet to shoot down the claims. She sent a message of condolences to the family and offered “healing to his friends, family, and all community members who are hurting” while speaking against the “senseless violence” that happened then mentions, “Some are reporting he was a relative of my family; however, this is a falsehood and a distraction.”
I condemn the senseless violence that resulted in Mr. Jerry Smith’s death and I am sending hopes for healing to his friends, family and all community members who are hurting. Some are reporting he was a relative of my family; however, this is a falsehood and a distraction.— Leslie Hager-Smith (@BlaxburgMayor) June 3, 2021
Etute was arrested on June 2nd and charged with second-degree murder, a fate that shocked his family as well as the school. Virginia Tech released a statement that the football player was suspended from the team as well as the school, effective immediately, while the investigation remains ongoing.
Promising to assist law enforcement any way they can, the statement reads, “The Virginia Tech and Town of Blacksburg communities are united in our shared concern for the welfare of all. Together, we denounce all acts of violence and stand together in support of one another.”
Etute faced a hearing in the Montgomery County General Court District in a packed courtroom with his family and more than a dozen of his fellow Hokie team members there in support, the Roanoake Times reports. Also in attendance was Smith’s family. Etute’s attorney, Jimmy Turk, stated in his defense that the victim was the one who solicited Etute for the sexual act.
Turk stated to the court, “I’m not saying what happened was acceptable, but this was more than someone just showing up to an apartment and punching someone.” He further commented to reporters outside of the courtroom, “Nobody deserves to die, but I don’t mind saying, don’t pretend you are something that you are not. Don’t target or lure anyone under that perception. That’s just wrong.”
Turk also got emotional during his closing arguments as he was fighting for Etute’s bail and freedom. “I’ve tried more than 100 murder cases in my lifetime, and normally I don’t even ask for bail,” he said to the judge. “If there’s ever been a time for someone to be considered for bail, this is it.”
Etute was also asked how the ordeal was affecting him, to which he replied, “Real hard. I’m trying to stay strong for the people that support me, I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down … I’m truly sorry for my actions,” he admitted in court.
Judge Randal Duncan eventually ruled that Etute would be released on $75,000 secured bond under house arrest and electronic monitoring. Under this ruling, he is not to return to Montgomery County unless he is consulting with his legal team or attending court hearings. In the meantime, he will stay with his parents in Virginia Beach until his scheduled September 23rd court appearance.