Former Virginia Tech linebacker Isimemen Etute is back playing football after a jury cleared him of murdering a Tinder date.
The jury in May acquitted the then-19-year-old athlete of killing Jerry Smith, a 40-year-old gay man who identified as a 21-year-old woman to trap unsuspecting college students on Tinder.
Etute is set to play football this fall at Iowa Western Community College, ESPN reports.
Etute’s attorney James Turk confirmed the news to ESPN. Turk said it was difficult finding a Division 1 school willing to take a chance on Etute following his arrest and murder trial.
During his emotional closing argument, Turk suggested that Etute was the victim.
“I think he’s earned the right to go back to school and further his academic and sports career,” Turk told reporters 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.”
Etute was 18 when he connected with Smith on Tinder. Smith presented himself as an emergency room physician named Angie Renee.
After Smith performed oral sex on Etute, the two men engaged in anal intercourse. Etute said Smith kept the lights off in his apartment and hid his face.
Smith paid the college athlete $50 for the encounter. Etute stopped returning Smith’s texts when he heard rumors around town that Smith was a man.
Etute said he went back to Smith’s apartment on May 31, 2021, to find out whether he was a male or a female, police said.
After confirming his suspicion that Smith was a male, Etute punched him five times and kicked him when he thought Smith was reaching for a gun, according to his defense attorney.
The gay panic defense has been used successfully in other murder cases. But it is banned in many jurisdictions.