On Friday, a jury acquitted a former Virginia Tech football player who had been accused of fatally beating a man he says he initially believed from a Tinder match to be a woman.
Isimemen Etute was charged with second-degree murder in the 2021 death of 40-year-old Jerry Smith. Etute told police he visited Smith’s apartment in April 2021 after he was matched with someone named “Angie” on Tinder. Prosecutors said that when Etute returned on May 31, he became enraged when he discovered his match was a man.
Etute allegedly beat Smith when he discovered he was a man.
“Every bone in Jerry’s face was broken,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan said.
Defense attorney Jimmy Turk told the jurors was “controlling the entire environment and the entire episode.” He added that Smith had “demanded that it be dark” and had hidden a knife under his mattress “in case there was something awry.”
In taking the stand earlier in the week, Etute had testified that he felt “violated” when he discovered that the Tinder match he believed to be a woman was actually a man. In his testimony Thursday, Etute had testified that Smith reached for what Etute thought was a gun. Smith did not own a gun, but police reported finding a knife between the man’s mattress and box spring.
Etute said he punched Smith five times and kicked him to gain time to escape the apartment.
The jury deliberated for approximately three hours before returning its verdict around 6:30 p.m., The Roanoke Times reported. Immediately after the verdict was announced, Smith’s family quickly left the courtroom.