Blacksburg, VA – Suspended Virginia Tech linebacker Isi Etute beat a man to death for catfishing him and pretending to be a woman who wanted to have sex.
Prosecutors explained how the May 31 incident occurred during a virtual bond hearing on Wednesday, TMZ reported.
Etute, 18, told investigators that he went to the Blacksburg home of 40-year-old Jerry Smith for oral sex on April 10 after matching with a woman named “Angie” on Tinder, The Roanoke Times reported.
Summaries of the evidence given by Etute’s attorney and Virginia Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan said that Etute returned to “Angie’s” apartment in the 100-block of North Main Street for sex on May 31 and realized that she was actually a man.
Prosecutors said Etute told police that he had punched Smith five times in the face and continued punching him when he hit the ground, The Roanoke Times reported.
The football player told investigators that he also “stomped” on Smith.
Prosecutors said that Etute admitted he heard Smith “bubbling and gurgling” as he left the apartment but said he did not call for help, The Roanoke Times reported.
Police found Smith’s dead body the next day, on June 1.
The autopsy report showed that all the bones in Smith’s face were broken, he had multiple cranial fractures, and some of his teeth had been knocked out, The Roanoke Times reported.
Etute was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with Smith’s death on June 2.
Jimmy Turk, Etute’s defense attorney, told the court that Smith had represented himself to his client as a woman, The Roanoke Times reported.
“I’m not saying what happened was acceptable, but this was more than someone just showing up to an apartment and punching someone,” Turk said.
He elaborated on his point to reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing, The Roanoke Times reported.
“Nobody deserves to die, but I don’t mind saying, don’t pretend you are something that you are not,” the dense attorney said. “Don’t target or lure anyone under that perception. That’s just wrong.”
Etute’s mother, Michelle Etute, testified at the hearing that that their family lived in Virginia Beach and somebody was home “pretty much around the clock” because he has a younger sister with Down’s Syndrome, The Roanoke Times reported.
The freshman linebacker enrolled at Virginia Tech second semester last school year and went through spring football camp with the team.
His attorney fought back tears as he made the argument for Etute’s release to the judge, The Roanoke Times reported.
“I’ve tried more than 100 murder cases in my lifetime, and normally I don’t even ask for bail,” Turk said. “If there’s ever been a time for someone to be considered for bail, this is it.”
Montgomery County District Court Judge Randal Duncan granted Etute’s release on a $75,000 secured bond and electronic monitoring to his parents’ home in Virginia Beach, The Roanoke Times reported.
Virginia Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said in a press release that Etute was restricted from returning to Montgomery County except for court hearings or to meet with his attorney.
More than a dozen Virginia Tech football players attended the hearing to show their support for their teammate despite the fact the university placed Etute on interim suspension the day he was arrested and has since erased him from the team’s website, The Roanoke Times reported.
Smith worked at a variety of restaurants in the Blacksburg area including Centro Taco Bar, Black Hen and D.P. Dough.
“He was so proud,” a spokesperson for Smith family told The Roanoke Times. “Everybody knew he was a gay man. He did not like women. He was very proud of who he was.”
The family said they were unaware of Smith’s legal problems that were being reported in the news.
Smith’s lengthy criminal history included convictions in Montgomery, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties for a list of crimes that included driving under the influence, reckless driving, public intoxication and filing a false police report, in addition to charges that were dismissed, The Roanoke Times reported.
The Smith family spokesperson said they hoped Smith hadn’t been targeted because he was gay.
“Regardless of what he did, he did not deserve this,” the spokesperson said. “He was maybe 112 pounds soaking wet. He wasn’t a threat to nobody. He wasn’t a threat to a fly. He wasn’t a dangerous person. Nobody has a right to take someone’s life. Whatever happened should not have happened.”