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Jury: Suspect not guilty in alleged sex-related Blacksburg killing

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 11:08 AM EDT|Updated: May. 27, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: A jury has ruled Isi Etute is not guilty in the killing in 2021 of Jerry Smith in Blacksburg.

The ruling came after several hours of deliberations Friday; the trial began Wednesday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Closing arguments took place Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court in day three of the murder trial of Isi Etute, and the jury has begun deliberations.

Etute pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder for the blunt force trauma death in 2021 of Jerry Smith. The two had matched on the dating app Tinder, with Smith allegedly pretending to be a woman named Angie, leading to a sexual encounter between the men. When Etute discovered Smith was a man, he testified, he hit Smith.

In day three of the trial, the defense rested and attorneys went over jury instructions.

Before that, the defense called Etute’s brother, Ehis Etute, as a witness, but prosecutors made a motion to exclude his testimony, saying Ehis Etute’s name wasn’t on an agreed-upon list of potential witnesses. The defense ended up withdrawing Etute’s brother as a witness.

The defense then called Jordan Brunson, who went to Smith’s apartment the day of the killing with Etute and another friend, Jalen. Brunson testified he never went into the apartment, but instead stayed in the hallway. In court, he spoke about Etute’s demeanor before and after the incident.

The options for the jury are:

- 2nd-degree murder: if guilty he would get 5 to 40 years as a guideline for sentencing.

- Voluntary Manslaughter: if guilty he would get 1 to 10 years as a guideline for sentencing.

- Not guilty.

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