Killing of Smith called ‘irrational,’ defense called discriminatory
Reverberations continued to spread Thursday from the Memorial Day killing of a gay Blacksburg man whose alleged attacker, a Hokie linebacker, told police that he’d lashed out after discovering the person he met for a sexual encounter was not a woman.
The violence “struck close to home,” said Jim Best, regional coordinator for the Floyd chapter of PFLAG, one of the oldest and largest organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer people and their families. “I hope this terrible incident will make more real the jeopardy — and the work we still have to do to prevent the kind of knee-jerk, irrational behavior that we’ve grown up with as males in our society.”
Reactions to the killing of Jerry Paul Smith, a 40-year-old restaurant project manager, grew louder after a Wednesday bond hearing for Isimemen David Etute, 18, of Blacksburg. Etute, a freshman on Virginia Tech’s football team until his arrest, at which point he was suspended, faces a second-degree murder charge.
At the hearing in Montgomery County General District Court with more than a dozen Hokie football players in attendance, Judge Randal Duncan heard a prosecutor’s statements that Etute told police he went to Smith’s downtown apartment to engage in sexual activity. Etute told police he thought he was meeting a woman named Angie with whom he’d connected on Tinder, and whom he’d met for oral sex on April 10.
Discovering that Angie was a man provoked Etute to start punching, then “stomping” Smith, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan said.
Smith was left “bubbling and gurgling” on the floor of his home, according to what Etute told police, Morgan said. All of the bones in Smith’s face were broken, his teeth were knocked out, and he had cranial fractures, Morgan said.
Duncan then said that he saw no evidence that Etute posed a danger to the community and allowed him to leave jail until his trial, after posting a $75,000 bond.
Etute was released to his parents shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday. He is to be under house arrest in their custody in Williamsburg.
Etute’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 23.