Trial begins for former Virginia Tech football player charged with murder

Isimemen Etute, 19, is charged with second-degree murder in death of Jerry Smith, 40

Wednesday marked day one of the trial against a former Virginia Tech football player, Isimemen Etute. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Jerry Smith on May 31, 2021.

CHRISTIANSBURG, MONTGOMERY COUNTY – Wednesday marked day one of the trial against a former Virginia Tech football player, Isimemen Etute. He is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Jerry Smith on May 31, 2021.

Etute has pleaded not guilty.

In court, Etute’s lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense because he thought Smith was reaching for a weapon the night of the alleged murder.

The Commonwealth says Etute should be found guilty of second-degree murder for killing Smith after discovering the person he had sexual encounters with was in fact a man and not a woman. Prosecutors said that Etute had every right to be angry at the situation, but “Jerry didn’t deserve to die.”

The first part of the day was spent selecting the jury. Nine women and four men, including one alternate, were ultimately selected. Several potential jurors were dismissed because of previous knowledge of or biases in regard to the case.

Then it was time for opening statements and witness testimony.

During the court proceeding, Etute’s lawyer said the jury would hear from Etute himself.

Smith’s brother, John Smith, testified that he was the first to find Jerry Smith’s body on June 1, 2021. He said that he didn’t agree with his brother being gay, but he did not know that Jerry was presenting as a straight woman.

Police say Etute first matched with Smith on Tinder on April 10. Smith had been posing as a 28-year-old woman named Angie.

The jury heard from an expert with the medical examiner’s office who said that almost every bone in Smith’s face was broken and that he had actually inhaled the blood from his injuries.

The defense objected to several gruesome pictures showing Smith’s bloody face, but the judge allowed them to be presented to the jury as evidence.

Investigators testified that a large, serrated kitchen knife was found in between Smith’s mattress and box spring. The defense then presented that knife to the jury as evidence in the case.

The Commonwealth objected to showing pictures of another knife in Smith’s basement, but the judge allowed that to be admitted into evidence.

Investigators say another Virginia Tech football player, Jalen Hampton, had met up with Angie the same day Smith was killed. They said Etute was with a third Virginia Tech football player, Jordan Brunson, when Hampton called Etute to discuss whether they thought Angie was a man or not.

The defense said that Hampton described his encounter with Angie as “sketchy.”

Lawyers in court said that the group planned to confront Angie. That’s when Etute went back into Angie’s apartment and the two had another sexual encounter before Etute discovered Smith was a man and allegedly beat him to death.

Graphic images of Smith’s body were shown in court. The expert from the medical examiner’s office said that Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head. He had fractures to nearly every bone in his face. The expert also testified that there was bloody foam found around Smith’s mouth, which was a result of him inhaling the blood from his injuries.

The trial continues Thursday morning at 9 a.m.


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


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