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Former Virginia Tech player Isi Etute was acquitted in a second murder

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(Content Warning: This story contains graphic details. The content is difficult to read and can be emotionally upset.)

Christiansburg, Virginia — A jury trial finds former Virginia Tech football player Ishimemen “Ishi” Etute acquitted of a second murder on Friday after the death of Jerry Paul Smith, who lives in Blacksburg. did.

The ruling came after a three-day trial in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, almost a year after the beating of 40-year-old Smith in the guise of a woman named “Angie Renee” against Etute on Tinder. rice field. Etute’s lawyer insisted on self-defense after the two quarreled in Smith’s apartment when it was revealed that Smith was a man.

When the verdict was read, Etute’s family cheered loudly in court before they settled down. Etute was as weeping as his lawyer, Jimmy Turk. After the jury trial left the court, the two hugged.

“I say I’m very happy. I’m 100% honest. I think it’s the right verdict,” said Etute and his family when they left another place. Said the Turks who spoke to reporters outside the court. Exit without comment. “Yes, and I’m glad Isi no longer wears her ankle bracelet.”

Smith’s family suddenly left the court after the verdict was read without comment. Patrick Jensen, Federal Chief Attorney, did not comment and referred to Federal Attorney Mary Pettit for questions.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict around 6:30 pm, three and a half hours after the deliberation began. They were instructed to decide whether Etute’s case justified the conviction of the second murder, but less intentional manslaughter if they determined that Etute acted innocently. I was able to return the sentence for the crime.

If you are convicted of a second murder, you will be sentenced to 5 to 40 years in prison. Spontaneous manslaughter may have been sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison.

At around 5:10 pm, the jury asked the judge for an explanation and asked about the definition of “desire for peace” related to self-defense instructions. Eighty minutes later, they were acquitted and returned.

Etute and Smith had their first sexual encounter in April 2021 at a Blacksburg apartment in downtown Smith. Meanwhile, he appeared as Angie and had oral sex with Etute, a freshman linebacker at the time. At a second meeting with Angie on May 31, last year, Etute said he had beaten Smith several times and kicked him when he left Smith’s apartment after finding out that it was Smith, a man rather than a woman.

Dr. Amy Sirp, a forensic pathologist, asked Jensen about a brutal beating that broke almost all the bones in Smith’s face, swollen his brain, and knocked out his teeth. Jensen noted the size difference between Etute, which weighs over 200 pounds at 6 feet 2½, and Smith, which weighs 153 pounds.

“Only two people know what happened in the room, one of whom is dead,” Jensen said in closing arguments.

Turk claimed that Etute acted for self-defense and the incident was shortened to 5-7 seconds. Etute testified that after discovering Smith as a man, Smith reached for something near his bed. Etute couldn’t see anything in the darkened bedroom, but police later found a knife under the mattress where Smith first sat.

Turk’s closing statement questioned Smith’s character and called him “evil” and “deception” by disguising himself as a woman on Tinder and “seducing” a young man into his apartment. He called Smith a “sexual predator” and committed assault on Etute, claiming that Smith’s death was “the result of intentional and evil sexual abuse.”

“I’m sure (Smith’s family) is experiencing a lot of pain right now, and it feels terrible that they were exposed,” Turk later said. “As I told the jury, I’m not saying they don’t have a family looking for mistakes. There’s one person who could have prevented all this. It all started. One, one who controlled all of it, and one who exposed the youth to this sexual predator nature, but that’s a mistake. It was terrible to expose these young men as well. . “

Jensen asked the jury to consider the contradictions in Etute’s statement. Etute did not mention police during the June 2 cross-examination that he was afraid of his life or saw Smith reach for something. The first mention was directed to teammate Jordan Branson, who testified that Smith had told him that he was asking for something two days after Etute was released from prison.

19-year-old Etute was arrested and charged with a second murder after police asked him about his encounter with Smith on May 31st. Virginia Tech graduate. The Tinder’s profile had a picture of a woman who wasn’t Smith.

During the encounter on April 10, 2021, the apartment was dark and Smith wore a hoodie to hide his identity. Etute testified that the encounter confused him, and conversations with his friends led him to question whether the person he met was a woman.

After blocking Angie on The Tinder for a while, Etute unblocked her and set up another meeting in Smith’s apartment after Virginia Tech teammate Jalen Hampton played Tinder against Angie Renee on May 31st. Did.

Etute and Branson met Hampton and went to Angie’s apartment. They testified that Etute was planning to come in and find out if Angie was a man or a woman. If it was a man, he was going to run out.

When they arrived, only Etute entered the apartment, video surveillance was shown, Hampton was near the doorway, and Branson was further down the hallway. Appearing as Angie and wearing a blue hoodie to hide her face, Smith led Etute to the bedroom upstairs and sat on the left side of the bed. Etute, who had a cell phone flashlight in his pocket, made Smith bend over to bed.

Etute pulled Parker back and put a flashlight on the person’s face, revealing that it was a male Smith. Etute said he saw short hair, glasses, and some facial hair.

Etute testified that Smith smiled and reached for his crotch. Etute said that after backhanding Smith’s hand, Smith hit him with his right hand and missed it. When Smith reached the ground, Etute testified that he had seen him reach for something.

Etute said he hit Smith several times and knocked him to the ground. When Smith landed on the ground, Etute hit him two more times and knocked on his back. Then he hit him again and then kicked and trampled him on his flip-flops.

Prosecution witness Mike Chernikki, a blacksburg police bloodstain analysis expert, said he had shown that Etute had kicked Smith twice on his face, but Etute faced Smith when he left. To Etute’s flip-flops, which he said once kicked, and again to leave traces of blood-stained sandals on Smith’s face.

Etute said he heard Smith breathing when he left the apartment and ran out of buildings with Hampton and Branson. According to the surveillance video, he was in the apartment for three minutes. Branson testified that he was distraught when Etute left and wept and shed blood on the knuckle. Hampton testified that Etute said, “It was a man.”

Smith was discovered the next day by police when his brother, John Wayne Smith, went to Smith’s apartment to check him after not answering several calls. Police asked the elders, Hampton, and Branson early in the morning of June 2 before picking up Etute around 7 am.

Etute told the police about his encounter with Smith, but said he didn’t think he would hurt him so badly. When the detective told Etute that Smith had died, Etute sat silently, holding his head in both hands and began to cry. He was later charged with his second murder.

Etute was originally suspended from the Hawkeys football team indefinitely after being arrested and was no longer a student at Virginia Tech at the time of the trial. Turk believes Etute deserves to regain his life, including his football career.

“He was acquitted of the crime, which means he turned out to be innocent,” Turk said. “I’m not a coaching staff, but do you think he got the right to go back to school and further his academic and sports career? Yes, yes. The school that took him is probably I think I’ll be a smarter, smarter, and extraordinary athlete. “

(Photo: Matt Gentry / Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)