Janet Abaroa's family 'terrified' by deadlocked jury
Posted May 31, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Jurors in the first-degree murder trial of Raven Abaroa continued working Friday toward a unanimous verdict even after the panel of seven men and five women told the presiding judge twice that it could not reach a unanimous verdict.
"We have decided that no amount of deliberation will alter our decision or lead us to a unanimous resolution of guilty or not guilty," Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson read from a second jury note Friday afternoon.
Abaroa, 33, faces an automatic life sentence if convicted of stabbing to death his 25-year-old wife, Janet Abaroa, on April 26, 2005.
Jurors deliberated for nearly eight hours over the past three days before telling Hudson shortly before noon Friday that they were deadlocked 11-1. The jury's foreman did not say which way they were leaning.
The second note said that "the outlying vote has been considered exhaustively and challenged and is still a deeply held conviction."
Abaroa's defense attorney, Amos Tyndall, moved for a mistrial, but Durham County Assistant District Attorney asked that jurors continue until at least 5 p.m.
"It is your duty to do whatever you can to reach a verdict," Hudson said.
Family members of Janet Abaroa were in tears Friday morning and said that they are "exhausted and terrified."
Raven Abaroa's attorney, at one point Friday, patted his client on the shoulder and told him, "Hang in there," Raven Abaroa's family members said they were "doing fine."
Testimony in the five-week trial spanned 19 days and consisted of 82 witnesses and 565 pieces of evidence.
On Thursday, jurors made requests to see several pieces of evidence presented at trial, including crime scene photos, bank and phone records, DNA reports and the 911 call Raven Abaroa made on the night he found his wife dead in an upstairs office of the couple's Durham.
An autopsy found she had been stabbed three times and had recently become pregnant.
Raven Abaroa has maintained his innocence, saying he was playing in a soccer game and returned home to find her crouched on the floor. He was arrested nearly five years later in Idaho, where he lived with the couple's son, who was 6 months old when his mother died.
Defense attorneys argued that police focused only on their client as a suspect and ignored or explained away any evidence that would could have helped identify another culprit in the case
Prosecutors, however, argued that Janet Abaroa's death wasn't random and that Raven Abaroa was the only person with any reason to kill her.