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Virginia Tech football player accused of murder appears in court; victim died of blunt force trauma
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Virginia Tech football player accused of murder appears in court; victim died of blunt force trauma

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Blacksburg police found Jerry Paul Smith dead in his North Main Street apartment on June 1. Isimemen David Etute, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Barber: Tech football player charged with murder

CHRISTIANSBURG — Details continued to emerge Thursday in the case of a Virginia Tech freshman linebacker charged with killing a man on Memorial Day in a downtown Blacksburg apartment.

At a brief court hearing, a judge appointed an attorney to defend 18-year-old Ismemen David Etute against a charge of second-degree murder.

Meanwhile, the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke said Thursday that an autopsy had found that Jerry Paul Smith, 40, had died from a blunt force injury to the head. The medical examiner’s office listed the manner of death as homicide.

Etute, who was arrested Wednesday, appeared Thursday in Montgomery County General District Court via a video link from the county jail. He has been suspended from Virginia Tech’s football team and from the university itself.

Clad in shorts, sandals and an orange shirt, Etute told Judge Gino Williams that he would like to have a lawyer appointed to represent him.

Williams chose Naomi Huntington of Radford, a former prosecutor in Pulaski County who is Radford’s vice mayor.

Etute is being held without bail. The judge set Sept. 23 as the date for Etute’s preliminary hearing on the murder charge.

Etute also has a July 22 hearing in Radford, where he faces driving charges that also stem from Memorial Day. On Monday, Etute was driving a 2019 BMW SUV and was pulled over at 4 p.m. for reckless driving and failing to obey a stop sign, according to court records.

It’s unclear whether Etute was pulled over before or after Smith’s death. Authorities have not said what time they think Smith died.

Investigators have said Smith, a restaurant worker, and Etute knew each another but have not specified why they were together Monday.

According to a news release from Blacksburg police, officers were sent at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to make a wellness check at Smith’s residence at an apartment in the 100 block of Blacksburg’s North Main Street. They found Smith dead.

An investigation quickly began. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting Blacksburg police, said Dee Rybiski, a spokesperson in the agency’s Richmond office. She had no further comment.

Radford police did not respond to questions about Etute’s traffic stop.

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