Former Virginia Tech soccer participant Isimemen Etute acquitted in beating dying of man he says he thought was a girl

A jury on Friday acquitted a former Virginia Tech soccer participant who had been accused of fatally beating a person he says he initially believed from a Tinder match to be a girl.

Former participant Isimemen Etute, 19, was discovered not responsible of a cost of second-degree homicide within the 2021 dying of Jerry Smith, 40, of Blacksburg. The jury deliberated for roughly three hours earlier than returning its verdict round 6:30 p.m., The Roanoke Instances reported.

Football Player Murder Charge
Isimemen Etute celebrates in Montgomery County Circuit Court docket Friday, Could 27, 2022 in Christiansburg Va. 

Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Instances through AP, Pool

Instantly after the decision was introduced, Smith’s household rapidly left the courtroom. The prosecuting legal professional, Montgomery County Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Legal professional Patrick Jensen, declined remark and referred inquiries to his boss, Commonwealth’s Legal professional Mary Pettitt.

The jury started deliberations after closing arguments ended shortly earlier than 3 p.m.

Prosecutors had earlier advised the jury that Etute, then 18, grew to become enraged and fatally beat Smith when he found Smith was a person. One of many prosecutors mentioned at closing arguments Friday that Etute gave totally different variations of occasions to police and the jury, and that the cost could have been sufficient for him to alter his testimony.

“He has an amazing quantity driving on this trial,” Jensen had mentioned throughout his closing argument hours earlier Friday, The Roanoke Instances reported.

Protection legal professional Jimmy Turk advised the jurors earlier Friday that the commonwealth’s proof was circumstantial, whereas the protection’s proof, which included the testimony of Etute, was direct.

Turk additionally mentioned Smith was “controlling your complete setting and your complete episode.” He added that Smith had “demanded that it’s darkish” and had hidden a knife beneath his mattress “in case there was one thing awry.”

Turk additionally argued that police did not ask Etute important questions on Smith’s knife or Etute’s concern whereas within the condo, two questions whose solutions might have proven whether or not Etute was afraid for his life and performing in self-defense.

In taking the stand earlier within the week, Etute had testified that he felt “violated” when he found that the Tinder match he believed to be a girl was truly a person.

In his testimony Thursday, Etute had testified that Smith reached for what Etute thought was a gun. Smith didn’t personal a gun, however police reported discovering a knife between the person’s mattress and field spring.

Etute mentioned he punched Smith 5 occasions and kicked him to achieve time to flee the condo.

Jensen had maintained that Etute had not acted in self-defense. He argued that after Etute punched Smith and Smith fell to the ground, there was “no manner” Smith might have reached a weapon beneath his mattress.

“He might by no means attain a gun from there,” Jensen mentioned.

Jensen recalled the testimony of medical expert Dr. Amy Tharp, who Jensen mentioned testified Smith had been the sufferer of a “brutal beating.”

Jensen mentioned that whereas Etute was sporting flip-flops on the time of the encounter, these footwear had been hooked up to a “huge individual” and a “robust individual.” He in contrast Etute, an “elite school athlete,” to Smith, who weighed 153 kilos (just below 70 kilograms).

“That is a giant disparity,” Jensen mentioned.

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