Former Virginia Tech football player acquitted of murder enters NCAA transfer portal
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - The former Virginia Tech athlete who was recently found not guilty of second-degree murder may head back to the football field soon.
University officials were able to confirm that Isimemen Etute, a former linebacker for Virginia Tech, has officially entered the NCAA Transfer Portal.
The player posted on Twitter Friday that his notification of transfer has been submitted. According to officials, this means, his recruitment is open and any other coach/school can initiate contact with him as well. Under NCAA rules, Etute will be able to enroll at a new school this fall and begin playing immediately.
Etute was a freshman at Virginia Tech when he was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on June 1, 2021 after police found 40-year-old Jerry Paul Smith dead in his Blacksburg apartment.
A medical examiner later determined Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head.
The former player was recently acquitted of second-degree murder after a three-day jury trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
Court proceedings revealed the two had matched on the app Tinder, with Smith allegedly pretending to be a woman named “Angie”, leading to a sexual encounter between the men.
Etute testified saying after meeting with that person, his friends joked with him that they didn’t know who the person was.
He then said on the stand that after talking with his friends, they wanted to find out who “Angie” was. He said on the stand, that the plan was just to run if “Angie” was in fact a man.
As he testified, Etute said he returned to Smith’s apartment with two teammates to confront him on May 31, 2021. The two teammates never went inside the apartment but Etute said while inside the apartment, something didn’t feel right. That when he said he pulled back a hoodie and realized Smith was a man.
The former football player said he was in shock, and testified he thought Smith tried to reach for something, believing it was a gun at the time. On the stand, Etute said he feared for his life, so he started to hit Smith and then left.
During the trial, no evidence had been shown that there was a gun found in the apartment. A Blacksburg police officer testified about finding a knife hidden between the mattress and the box spring.
In court, a video was shown of an interview with Blacksburg Police. When detectives told Etute Smith was dead, he was visibly upset.
Etute testified he left the apartment believing Smith was still alive.
A jury ruled Etute is not guilty of killing Smith after several hours of deliberation on May 27, 2022.
On May 29, 2022, the Etute family issued a statement that said in part, " It will take time to decompress and feel relief from this gut-wrenching, frightening experience in life. It has made us stronger and strengthened our faith. We will continue to include the Smith family in our prayers. Isi is extremely grateful for the jury’s hard work, deliberation, and verdict. Isi is now focused on picking up where he left off in his pursuit of a college degree and love for the game of football. Isi says this process gives him trust and faith again in life. He further says it has only helped him become much smarter, wiser, and stronger, with a new outlook on life in his journey moving forward.”
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