Ex-Virginia Tech player pleads not guilty in beating death

Posted at 11:17 PM, May 19, 2022 and last updated 7:46 PM, July 14, 2023

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia Tech football player accused of fatally beating a man he met on an online dating site and had initially believed to be a woman pleaded not guilty Thursday to a second-degree murder charge, authorities said.

Isimemen Etute appears in court in Christiansburg Va. Thursday May 19 2022. Etute, a Virginia Tech freshman linebacker is charged in the fatal beating of a Tinder match. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP, Pool)

The arraignment of former linebacker Isimemen David Etute was held ahead of a trial scheduled to start May 25 in Montgomery County Circuit Court, The Roanoke Times reported.

Etute is accused in the death of Jerry Smith, 40 in May 2021. Etute said he visited Smith’s apartment that April after he was matched with someone named “Angie” on Tinder, and returned on May 31 to determine whether his match was male or female, attorneys and witnesses said at earlier hearings.

A detective testified that Etute groped Smith and used his phone’s flashlight to get a better look in the dark apartment before repeatedly punching the victim, according to court records. The medical examiner’s office revealed that Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Etute was released on $75,000 last June and has been under house arrest and electronic monitoring while living with his family in Virginia Beach. He was suspended from the university and the football team during the investigation.