Last Updated on June 7, 2022
A former Virginia Tech football player has been acquitted of murder charges after defending himself against a sexual assault and armed attack from a biological male posing as a woman he’d met on the Tinder dating app.
Isimemen Etute, a former linebacker for the Virginia Tech Hokies, was arrested on June 2nd, 2021, and charged with second-degree murder in the May 31st, 2021 death of a 40-year-old man named Jerry Paul Smith, who had posed as a woman named “Angie Renee” on the dating app Tinder. At the time, Etute was a freshman at Virginia Tech who was attending school on a football scholarship.
According to local reports and the details of court proceedings, Etute had first encountered Smith, who was using the name “Angie Renee,” on the Tinder app in April of 2021, with Smith repeatedly offering to perform oral sex on Etute while claiming to be a heterosexual, biological woman – not a man or a transgender.
Under the impression that the 40-year-old man was a woman, Etute met up with Jerry Paul Smith at Smith’s apartment, where Smith reportedly performed oral sex on Etute, never revealing his status as a man and concealing his own genitalia. At a later date, Etute returned to Smith’s apartment where Smith, who Etute still believed to be a woman, reportedly covered himself in a hooded sweatshirt and led Etute to a darkened bedroom. It was there that Etute discovered that “Angie” was in fact a man after moving aside a sweatshirt Smith was using to cover up his male genitals.
All the while, two of his teammates with whom he’d ridden to the residence were waiting outside, unaware of the increasingly dangerous situation.
After Etute discovered that he had fallen victim to Smith’s sexual assault scheme, an argument ensued in Smith’s darkened bedroom. It was at that time that Etute says Smith began reaching for something near his bed, prompting Etute to fear for his life and begin to defend himself, hitting Smith multiple times and then leaving the apartment, catching back up with his friends. Visibly distraught, Etute reportedly informed his teammates that “it was a man.”
When Etute left the apartment, he says he was under the belief that Smith was alive but police later tracked him down, informing him of Smith’s death and ultimately charging him with 2nd-degree murder.
Nearly a year later, Etute’s case was finally taken to trial, where it was publicly revealed that Smith had been reaching for a weapon – a knife – after Etute discovered that “Angie Renee” was in fact a man, justifying to the jury Etute’s fearing for his life on the night in question. After “several hours” of deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict on the charge of 2nd-degree murder and declined to convict Etute of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, fully exonerating him.
While media outlets have largely neglected to mention the rape and sexual assault aspect of Jerry Paul Smith’s scheme, Etute’s lawyer at trial did not, reminding jurors that Smith was a “sexual predator.”
“There’s one person that could have prevented all of this,” Etute’s lawyer, James Turk said at trial. “There’s one person that initiated it all, there’s one person that controlled every single bit of it, and one person that exposed young people to this sexual predator nature, that is just wrong.”
While he has been fully acquitted, Isimemen Etute is no longer enrolled at Virginia Tech and was suspended indefinitely from the football team upon being charged with 2nd-degree murder. In an announcement posted to his Twitter profile following his acquittal, Etute told his followers that he will be entering the NCAA’s transfer portal and hopes to continue his football career elsewhere, calling the transfer a “new beginning.”