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Etute hearing in Radford is delayed

Etute hearing in Radford is delayed

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RADFORD — Traffic charges against former Virginia Tech football player Isimemen David Etute won’t be heard for months, attorneys said Thursday outside a Radford courtroom.

“He’s got bigger problems,” city Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Rehak said.

The former Hokie linebacker was scheduled to appear in Radford General District Court Thursday to resolve traffic charges incurred in the city on Memorial Day, the same day Etute is accused of killing a man he mistook for a woman during a sexual encounter, according to previous testimony.

In Montgomery County, Etute is charged with second-degree murder for the death of Jerry Paul Smith, 40, a restaurant project manager who was killed in his downtown Blacksburg apartment. Etute has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 23 in the county’s General District Court.

Rehak and Etute defense attorney Jimmy Turk said Thursday that the traffic charges in Radford will be pushed months down the calendar. The new date for hearing the charges was later set Thursday for Feb. 17.

Turk said that the charges of reckless driving and failing to obey a stop sign were unrelated to what happened between Etute and Smith, and occurred hours before Etute went to Smith’s apartment. Turk said that his client and some friends attended a soccer match at Radford High School on Memorial Day, and after watching the contest, left and were pulled over for driving too fast.

Court records said Etute was pulled over at 4 p.m. on Memorial Day, when he was driving a 2019 BMW SUV. Security footage at Smith’s apartment building showed Etute and two other men in the hallway outside the apartment at about 9 p.m., and Etute going into the apartment.

Etute’s murder case has drawn wide attention because of the still-emerging nature of his relationship with Smith, as well as Etute’s potential as an up and coming Hokie player. According to Turk and a Montgomery County prosecutor who spoke at Etute’s bond hearing in June, Etute had arranged online to meet someone who he thought was a woman named Angie and in April had an encounter with the person that involved oral sex.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jason Morgan said at the bond hearing that Etute told police he went to Smith’s apartment for sexual activity. But when he discovered Angie was a man, Etute began punching, then “stomping” Smith, Morgan said. Smith’s teeth were knocked out, all of the bones in his face were broken, and he had cranial fractures, Morgan said.

In June, a spokesperson for Smith’s family described him as a proud, openly gay man.

At the bond hearing, Turk said that Smith solicited Etute for sex.

Etute, of Virginia Beach, majored in human development at Tech, according to a statement the university issued in June. He was a 2021 signee from Frank W. Cox High School who enrolled at midyear and began practicing with the team during spring camp.

After his arrest for murder in June, Etute was released on a $75,000 secured bond and placed under electronic monitoring and house arrest at his family’s home in Williamsburg.

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