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Former Virginia Tech football player acquitted in 2021 beating death

Football Player Murder Charge
Posted at 10:17 AM, May 30, 2022

A former Virginia Tech football player was acquitted Friday in the 2021 beating death of a man he says he thought was a woman.

The Roanoke Times reported that jurors deliberated for about three hours before finding Isimemen Etute not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Jerry Paul Smith.

ESPN reported that Etute collapsed in tears as jurors read the verdict.

Prosecutors had argued that Etute fatally beat Smith when he discovered that he was a man, the Associated Press reported.

Etute testified that he and Smith, who posed as a woman named "Angie," met on the dating app Tinder, and on April 10, Etute went to Smith's apartment and they had a sexual encounter.

The former football player said Smith insisted they meet in the dark.

According to the news outlets, Etute told the jurors he went back to Smith's apartment on May 31 to see if Smith was lying about his gender.

After discovering that Smith was actually a man, Etute said he felt "violated," the AP reported.

Thinking Smith was reaching for a gun, Etute struck Smith in the face several times and punched him.

Police later found a knife between Smith's mattress and box spring.

Smith's body was found days later, and Etute was arrested in June 2021, CBS News reported.

Etute's lawyer maintained that his client acted in self-defense.