A suspended Virginia Tech football player punched and stomped his Tinder match to death after learning the person was a man, according to prosecutors.
Isimemen Etute, 18, of Virginia Beach, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Jerry Smith in Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech is located, police said earlier this month. Smith, 40, died of blunt force injuries to the head, according to the Roanoke Medical Examiner’s Office.
Officials initially said Etute and the victim were “acquaintances,” but new details in court Wednesday revealed that the two met on April 10 after matching on the Tinder dating app, NBC affiliate WSLS of Roanoke reported.
Etute told police that Smith was posing as a woman under the alias, “Angie,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan said.
He did not know that Smith was a man when the two met and engaged in sexual activity during their first encounter at Smith’s apartment, according to Etute’s lawyer, Jimmy Turk.
On May 31, Etute returned to the victim’s residence where he found out that “Angie” was actually Smith, Turk said.
After the discovery, Etute punched Smith five times and stomped on his head after the victim fell on the floor, according to Morgan. He told authorities that Smith did not fight back and admitted that he heard a bubbly and gurgling noise after the incident, but did not call the police, Morgan said.
Officers found Smith after responding to a welfare check at his residence about 10:30 p.m. ET June 1, according to the Blacksburg Police Department. Investigators ruled the death a homicide and later identified Etute as a person of interest in the case.
He was immediately suspended from the football team and Virginia Tech, where he majored in human development, according to the school. While Etute's information is not on the football team's website, WSLS reported he was a freshman linebacker.
The Commonwealth appealed the judge’s ruling to release Etute on a $75,000 bond, but dropped it after a judge determined that the suspect was neither a flight risk nor a danger to society.
Under his bond conditions, Etute is required to live with his family in Virginia Beach, according to Turk, who added that his next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 23. He is also required to wear an electronic ankle monitor while under house arrest, Montgomery County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettitt said.
Efforts to reach Smith’s family were unsuccessful Friday.