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Blacksburg murder suspect released on bond; lawyer says victim lured suspect with fake Tinder profile

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:30 AM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The suspect in a Blacksburg killing was released on $75,000 bond Wednesday after being ordered by a judge to stay with his parents and keep in contact with his attorney.

Isi Etute, 18, will be under house arrest for the time being, with electronic monitoring gear, allowed to leave home for court appearances. He must stay in Virginia and have no contact with the victim’s family.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney had appealed a judge’s bond approval, but agreed on bond after the conditions were agreed upon.

Etute is charged with second-degree murder for the death of Jerry Smith, 40, found dead in his apartment June 1. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force injuries to the head.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Etute’s attorney, Jimmy Turk, provided some details about the apparent link between the suspect and the victim. He said Etute and Smith had matched on the dating site Tinder, but Smith’s Tinder profile indicated he was a woman named Angie. The Commonwealth’s Attorney says the two first met April 10 for oral sex, and Etute didn’t realize Smith was a man until they met again May 31.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney says Etute punched Smith five times in the head, making Smith fall, at which point Etute stepped on Smith’s head until blood was bubbling from him. An exam indicated every bone in Smith’s face was broken, and he had missing and broken teeth.

Etute did not call police after the attack, according to the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Turk laid out his case Wednesday for granting bond for the suspect, having Etute and his mother take the stand. Etute’s mother told the court her son is not a flight risk and had never been in any trouble. She also spoke about how he would help take care of his younger sister with special needs.

Etute also said in court he’d never been in trouble. He graduated high school early to start at Virginia Tech in January. During the investigation, Etute is on suspension from Virginia Tech and its football team.

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