Football Player Acquitted in Tinder Date Murder

June 6, 2022 News & Announcements

A former football player at Virginia Tech has just been acquitted of a second-degree murder charge in the state of Virginia. The case involved the now 19-year-old Isimemen Etute, who allegedly beat a gay man to death after believing him to be a woman.

The linebacker had matched with who he thought was a 21-year-old girl in Christiansburg, Virginia, and proceeded to go on a date and engage in sexual acts. After later realizing that the person he matched with was actually a man, things turned violent and 40-year-old Jerry Smith ended up dead.

The case has just ended, with a not guilty verdict. Although the case happened outside of the state, we will cover its details and how it relates to second-degree murder charges in Florida.

What was the Incident?

Back in April 2021, Etute had matched with a 21-year-old emergency room physician named Angie on Tinder. The two met up for a date and went back to Angie’s apartment, where Etute received oral sex from his date.

Etute decided to return to the apartment later on, because he was suspicious of his date’s gender. Once he entered he proceed to grope Angie, only to realize he was actually 40-year-old Jerry Smith, who had been lying online and posing as a woman.

During the trial, Etute testified that he felt violated after discovering that his Tinder match who he presumed to be a woman was actually a man. The defendant also claimed that he was under the impression that Smith was reaching for a gun, which led to Etute attacking Smith.

According to his statement, Etute said that he only punched Smith five times, and kicked him before escaping the apartment. After Etute had left the apartment, Smith died from the beating. This led to Etute getting charged with second-degree murder.

Defense’s Argument of Self-Defense

Jimmy Turk, Etute’s defense attorney, was adamant that his client had acted in self-defense. According to Turk, Smith had been “controlling the entire environment and the entire episode,” and had “demanded that it be dark.” In addition, police found a knife between Smith’s mattress, which the defense argued was there in case “there was something awry.”

The prosecution pushed the fact that 18-year-old Etute became fully enraged about Smith’s gender and sexuality, which led to him brutally beating the man to death. Prosecuting attorney Patrick Jensen made a point to compare the defendant to Smith. Etute was an elite college athlete, whereas Smith only weighed 153 lbs. Medical examiner Dr. Amy Tharp testified in the trial, confirming that Smith suffered a “brutal beating.”

During the closing arguments, Turk used the words “deceitful and dishonest” to describe Smith, who he claimed “defrauded young men for his own sexual gratification.”

“Who is the real victim here?” Turk asked the courtroom, his eyes filled with tears. “This was a wicked sexual ruse.

After the final arguments were presented, the jury deliberated for around three hours before delivering the verdict around 6:30pm. The jury announced that Etute was not guilty, and when it was read out loud in the courtroom, Etute and his defense attorney embraced in a big bear hug. Etute has been acquitted of the second-degree murder charges against Smith, meaning he is able to walk away free.

Second-Degree Murder in Florida

Under Florida Statute section 782.04, second-degree murder is defined as when a killing has been committed in the heat of passion, or when the killing happened while the defendant was committing an act with no regard for human life.

Second-degree murder falls under a first-degree felony in Florida. Under Florida law, a first-degree felony results in the punishment of a fine of up to $10,000 or up to 30 years in prison.

Examples of second-degree murder include someone dying in a car crash involving a drunk driver, or like in the case mentioned above—someone hitting another person, which results in the death of the other person.. The main characteristic of second-degree murder is the defendant does not have to have the intent to cause the death. The prosecutor proves that the defendant had a depraved mind by showing that:

  • A person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another; and
  • Is done from ill will, hatred, spite, or evil intent; and
  • The act is of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

To read more about both murder and manslaughter charges in the state of Florida, find our informative blog here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

Getting accused of a crime is a terrifying experience, especially when it involves the death of another person. Murder is taken very seriously in the state of Florida, which can result in extremely harsh penalties. An experienced criminal defense attorney will examine all of the potential defenses in a second-degree murder case, and work towards gaining your freedom.

Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients all across the state of Florida for various charges. We understand the importance of building a strong defense for your case and promise to work tirelessly to ensure your freedom. For a free consultation, today call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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