In a mistaken gender identity case, a college football player, 18, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of second-degree murder.

The suspended Virginia Tech linebacker, Isimemen David Etute, allegedly murdered a man who he thought was a woman when he met him to have sex, reported The Roanoke Times.

While considering the case, a Montgomery County grand jury returned a true bill which means that the teenager will now be tried in the county’s Circuit Court, and his hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18. A person convicted for second-degree murder can face up to 40 years behind bars and no less than five years, as per Virginia law.

On June 2, Etute found himself in legal trouble when he was held in connection with the May 31 murder of a 40-year-old restaurant project manager named Jerry Paul Smith. According to lawyers, the two connected through Tinder, met on April 10 and had oral sex. But as per statements at earlier hearings, the teen thought that he had met a woman, and not a man.

After their meeting in April, Etute again went to Smith’s downtown Blacksburg apartment in Virginia the following month with the intention of finding out if Smith was a female or male. At Etute’s preliminary hearing, an investigator testified that the athlete told detectives that on May 31, he groped Smith to try to find out his gender, and used his mobile phone’s flashlight to get a better look at the man in the apartment that wasn't well lit, then he started punching him.

Etute was “stomping” Smith, who was left “bubbling and gurgling” on his floor at his residence, assistant Commonwealth’s attorney Jason Morgan said during the June hearing, reported NEWSONE. Morgan said that all the bones in Smith’s face were broken.

During the same hearing, it seemed like Etute’s defense attorney Jimmy Turk tried to blame the victim. Turk said at the time that no one deserves to die, but he didn’t mind saying, "don’t pretend you are something that you are not." He added, “Don’t target or lure anyone under that perception. That’s just wrong.”

In order to remain free, the teen is required to live with his family in Virginia Beach and be monitored electronically, with a $75,000 secured bond, but the indictment could threaten his freedom until the trial starts next month.

In recent years, violence against the trans community has gone up. According to the Human Rights Campaign, about 42 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been murdered in 2021 till now, and Smith was one of them.

Representational image. Pixabay.