Former Virginia Tech LB Isi Etute to play for Iowa community college after being found not guilty of murder

Former Virginia Tech linebacker Isi Etute, who was found not guilty of murder in May in a case stemming from a catfishing scheme, will enroll at Iowa Western Community College for the 2022 football season, his lawyer confirmed Monday.

Etute entered the transfer portal in June, but his attorney, James Turk, said it was difficult to find Division I schools willing to offer a scholarship following the highly publicized trial.

Etute was charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of Blacksburg, Virginia, resident Jerry Smith in May 2021 following a case of catfishing, in which Smith portrayed himself as a woman online to lure college-aged men to his apartment for sex.

Etute was a freshman linebacker at Virginia Tech at the time he first connected with Smith on the dating app Tinder. Smith was using the pseudonym "Angie Renee" and used photos of a woman to hide his identity.

On their first encounter, Etute received oral sex, along with $50, from Smith in an apartment near Virginia Tech's campus. Etute met with Smith again on May 31, 2021, in hopes of determining whether the person he knew as "Angie Renee" was actually a man, according to his testimony at trial. After using his cellphone flashlight to see Smith's face, Etute punched Smith several times and kicked Smith in the face before exiting the apartment.

Etute testified that he saw Smith reach toward his mattress and feared for his life. Police discovered a knife hidden between Smith's mattress and box spring.

On May 27, 2022, a Christiansburg, Virginia, jury found Etute not guilty, acknowledging his self-defense argument was plausible.

After the trial, Turk said the former three-star recruit deserved an opportunity to restart his football career.

"I think he's earned the right to go back to school and further his academic and sports career," Turk said outside the courthouse. "I think the school that ends up taking him is going to get probably a lot wiser and a much smarter and an exceptional athlete."

Three other Virginia Tech players who testified at Etute's trial have also since transferred from the school. Jordan Brunson and Jalen Hampton, who accompanied Etute at the time of the killing but who did not enter Smith's apartment, left for Miami (Ohio) and Elon, respectively. Da'Shawn Elder, who accompanied Etute on his initial meeting with Smith but left before any sexual encounters occurred, remains in the transfer portal.

Iowa Western finished last season 10-1 and ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division I rankings.