In the aftermath of Virginia Tech linebacker Isi Etute’s arrest and second-degree murder charge, authorities have now revealed the official cause of death for Jerry Paul Smith, the 40-year-old Blacksburg man whose death is suspected to have involved Etute. According to The Roanoke Times, the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke said an autopsy determined that Smith died from a blunt force injury to the head, with his death ruled a homicide.
A wellness check performed at 10:30 p.m. ET on June 1 at a downtown Blacksburg apartment resulted in the arrest of the Virginia Tech freshman linebacker, according to NBC afficilate WSLS-TV in Roanoke. When police arrived at 119 N. Main Street, they found Smith dead, ruling the manner a homicide. Etute was charged with second-degree murder.
Virginia Tech released a statement on the matter shortly after the news broke.
“Blacksburg Police have announced the arrest of a Virginia Tech student in connection to the death of a Blacksburg resident early Wednesday morning,” the statement read in part. “The student arrested is Isimemen Etute of Virginia Beach, Virginia, a freshman majoring in human development. Etute has been charged with second-degree murder.
“In the case of a felony arrest, the university has the authority to place a student on immediate interim suspension. In addition, Etute, a member of the football team, has been suspended from the team, effective immediately. Blacksburg Police continues to lead this ongoing investigation, and the university will assist law enforcement agencies working the case in any way it can.”
According to The Times, Etute had no previous trouble since arriving at Virginia Tech, nor did he raise any red flags during his recruitment, sources close to the situation told the outlet.
“If Tech’s coaching staff wanted to sign someone with a significant red flag, they would likely seek approval from athletic director Whit Babcock and university administration, according to a source familiar with the process,” The Times report read. “A statewide court records search shows that Etute hadn’t been arrested or charged with a driving citation in Virginia prior to May 31.”