Former Virginia Tech football player pleads not guilty to second-degree murder charge

The trial is expected to begin May 25

A former Virginia Tech football player appeared in court on Thursday for another hearing.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A former Virginia Tech football player appeared in court Thursday for another hearing before his trial begins next week.

Isimemen Etute was charged with second-degree murder in the May 31, 2021 death of a 40-year-old Blacksburg man, Jerry Smith.

Etute told the court he was not guilty of second-degree murder and was asked to have a jury trial, which was granted.

His lawyer, Jimmy Turk, said he filed three motions before the hearing.

The first motion filed is asking the court to protect the identity of a witness and that they use a pseudonym.

Documents filed say identifying the person could risk potential retaliation. This witness is now currently 21-years-old but was 19 at the time.

Another motion filed relates to evidence specifically to exclude autopsy photographs and crime scene of the deceased.

The last motion is asking the court to keep prosecutors from using the “gay panic defense law.” The new law blocks using a person’s gender or sexual orientation as a defense.

The 21-year-old was arrested in June 2021 after police discovered Smith deceased inside his own Blacksburg apartment.

Police said that during their investigation and in conversations with Etute, they learned that Etute and Smith matched on Tinder on April 10 and that Smith had been posing as a woman named “Angie.”

The two had a sexual encounter prior to Smith’s death.

Prosecutors say Etute hit Smith multiple times in the face after learning Smith was a man.

A medical examiner said Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head.

The trial is expected to start next week Wednesday, May 25.

10 News has covered this case extensively. Below are previous articles related to this case:

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Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.