CHRISTIANSBURG — A now-suspended Virginia Tech football player told police he punched a sexual partner five times in the face and stomped on him after discovering the person he thought was a woman was actually a man, according to arguments presented Wednesday in a Montgomery County courtroom.
According to the autopsy, all the bones in Blacksburg resident Jerry Paul Smith’s face were broken and there were cranial fractures. Smith’s teeth also were missing. The medical examiner’s office had previously revealed that Smith had died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Ismemen David Etute of Virginia Beach was arrested and charged with second-degree murder June 2 in the death of Smith, a Blacksburg restaurant worker.
Etute was granted bond in a hearing Wednesday morning in Montgomery County General District Court, but Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Patrick Jensen filed an expedited appeal that would have kept Etute in jail for up to five more days.
The two sides later Wednesday came to an agreement to release Etute on a $75,000 secured bond under house arrest and electronic monitoring, according to a release put out by Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt. The order restricts Etute from returning to Montgomery County except to consult with his attorney or to attend court proceedings.
Judge Randal Duncan excluded cameras from the courtroom at the start of the proceeding. Smith’s family was in attendance at the packed hearing. More than a dozen football players — most of them clad in Virginia Tech gear — were there in support of Etute.
Etute was in court Wednesday morning wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. A bailiff was stationed behind Etute throughout the entire hearing, and Etute was handcuffed with his wrists attached to a chain around his waist.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan argued against bail, and outlined new details about the case based on statements Etute gave to the police.
According to those statements, Etute visited the victim’s apartment April 10 for oral sex after he was matched up with someone named “Angie” on Tinder. Etute returned to the apartment May 31 to engage in sexual activity and discovered the person he was matched up with was male, according to summaries of the evidence made by Morgan and defense attorney Jimmy Turk.
Etute told the police he punched Smith five times in the face and continued punching the victim when they hit the ground and “stomped” on them. Etute heard “bubbling and gurgling” as he left the apartment but didn’t call the police.
Police discovered Smith’s body in the apartment in the 100 block of Blacksburg’s North Main Street on June 1.
“I’m not saying what happened was acceptable, but this was more than someone just showing up to an apartment and punching someone,” Turk told the court.
Morgan’s arguments came after testimony from Etute and his mother, Michelle.
Michelle Etute was the first witness called and Turk led her through a series of questions about her son’s background, his relationship with his family and their living situation. Etute has three siblings including a younger sister, 15, with Down syndrome.
Michelle Etute, with her voice barely above a whisper, said there is someone at home “pretty much around the clock,” with her daughter requiring extra care. Etute’s parents declined to comment after the hearing.
The freshman enrolled at Virginia Tech at midyear and attended spring camp with the football team.
The closest Etute came to referencing the charges he’s facing is when Turk asked him how the situation has affected him.
“Real hard,” Etute said. “I’m trying to stay strong for the people that support me, I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down. ... I’m truly sorry for my actions.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to remove comments from the defense attorney.