College football player says he’s “truly sorry” for beating gay man to death with his bare hands

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Jerry Paul Smith, Ismemen Etute

A court in Virginia this week heard evidence that a suspended Virginia Tech football player punched and stomped on a sexual partner in an attack that left the victim dead. Ismemen David Etute, 18, claims he attacked the victim after realizing he was a man.

Jerry Paul Smith, 40, died May 31 from injuries sustained in the beating. The Roanoke Times reports that an autopsy found that Smith died from blunt force trauma to the head. All the bones in his face were broken, he lost teeth, and he sustained several cranial fractures.

Friends and family all say Smith identified as a gay man.

Related: Oregon becomes 14th state to ban gay/trans panic defense in murder cases

According to statements made by Etute to police, he first met someone by the name of “Angie” on the dating app Tinder. The pair first met up for oral sex on April 10. On May 31, Etute agreed to meet up for sex again, when he discovered his partner was actually a man. Upon his realization, Etute punched Smith repeatedly until he hit the ground and stomped on him. He left the victim on the ground and did not call for an ambulance. Etute also told police that Smith did not physically assault him.

“I’m trying to stay strong for the people that support me, I feel like I’ve let a lot of people down,” Etute told the court. “I’m truly sorry for my actions.”

Defense lawyer Jimmy Turk tried to shift blame from Etute in a statement to reporters following the hearing.

“Nobody deserves to die, but I don’t mind saying, don’t pretend you are something that you are not,” Turk said. “Don’t target or lure anyone under that perception. That’s just wrong.”

Police arrested Etute on June 2 and charged him with murder. In a Montgomery County courtroom this week, prosecutors argued against granting Etute bail. Judge Randal Duncan eventually approved a $75,000 secured bond. Etute will remain under house arrest and electronic monitoring. Virginia Tech also suspended him from both the football team and the university.

Estute faces charges of second-degree murder in connection with the case. If convicted, he could face up to 40 years in prison.

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