BLACKSBURG, Va. – It was a roller coaster of emotions for people in court Friday.
Isimemen Etute is now a free man after a jury found him not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Jerry Smith on May 31, 2021.
The jury deliberated for nearly 3.5 hours.
After handing down the verdict, Etute and his family immediately started crying and hugging each other.
The prosecutors declined to comment.
Earlier in the day, prosecutors and the defense gave their closing arguments.
Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen argued that Etute did not act in self defense. He said Etute was a Division 1 athlete at the time, standing over 6′2 and weighing over 200 pounds and he used more force than necessary.
Etute’s defense lawyer, Jimmy Turk, called Smith “wicked” and “evil” for using Etute for “his own sick, sexual gratification.”
Telling the jury to “Ask yourself who’s the real victim here?” Turk then got emotional and said that he has three daughters, but “if I had a son that is exactly who I would want to have” he said pointing to Etute.
Outside court, Turk admitted that he was surprised by the verdict because it’s tough to predict what 12 people are going to decide.
He did say he feels terrible for the Smith family but said he believes the jury made the right decision.
“I’m happy Isi[memen] will not be wearing an ankle bracelet anymore,” said Turk.
Turk says Etute has his life back and can pursue his dream of playing football.