A suspended Virginia Tech football player accused of killing a gay man has said he became enraged after discovering the person he had met for a sexual encounter was male.
Jerry Paul Smith was killed May 31 at his home in Blacksburg, Va. A medical examiner ruled he died of blunt force trauma to the head; an autopsy further revealed that every bone in his face was broken and that he had skull fractures, the Roanoke Times reports. His teeth had also been knocked out.
His body was discovered the following day, and Ismemen David Etute, 18, of Virginia Beach was arrested June 2. Etute is charged with second-degree murder.
Etute appeared in Montgomery County General District Court in Christiansburg Wednesday. Prosecutor Jason Morgan, in arguing against Etute’s release on bond, testified that the defendant had met Smith for oral sex April 10, after the two had connected on Tinder. Etute believed that the person he had hooked up with was a woman named Angie. He returned to Smith’s apartment May 31, realized Smith was a man, and flew into a rage.
It isn’t clear from media reports why Etute thought Smith was a woman during the initial encounter. No one has identified Smith as transgender; his family has said he was a gay man. But Etute became so agitated that he began punching Smith, according to information presented by Morgan and by defense attorney Jimmy Turk.
“Etute told the police he punched Smith five times in the face and continued punching the victim when they hit the ground and ‘stomped’ on them,” the Times reports. “Etute heard ‘bubbling and gurgling’ as he left the apartment but didn’t call the police.”
Turk responded by telling the court, “I’m not saying what happened was acceptable, but this was more than someone just showing up to an apartment and punching someone.”
Turk had argued for his client to be released on bond, and a judge initially granted it, but Morgan appealed. The attorneys then reached a compromise under which Etute was released on a secured $75,000 bond and will be under house arrest and electronic monitoring, according to the Times. His mother had testified that someone is always at their home and that the family includes three siblings, among them a younger sister with Down syndrome.
Etute had entered Virginia Tech at midterm and participated in training with the football team. He is now suspended from both the team and the university.