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Contact lenses found when Janet Abaroa's body was exhumed

Posted May 16, 2013

Photo courtesy of the Christiansen family

— An exhumation of Janet Abaroa's body more than five years after she was found stabbed to death in her Durham home revealed that she had been wearing contacts when she was buried.

Abaroa Family Images: Janet Abaroa murder case

Dr. Charles Zwerling, a Goldsboro ophthalmologist who examined the remains of the 25-year-old's eyes, testified Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of her husband, Raven Abaroa, that he found fragments of Acuvue lenses in samples he received from Durham police.

Raven Abaroa, facing life in prison if convicted, told detectives that Janet Abaroa was getting ready to get in bed when he left for a soccer game sometime around 8 p.m. on April 26, 2005.

When he arrived home, sometime after 10:30 p.m., he has said he found her on the floor in an upstairs office.

Janet Abaroa's sister and best friend, have testified that she always took out her contact lenses before she went to bed. A police investigator testified that Raven Abaroa also told him that she removed them before bed.

Defense attorney Amos Tyndall, who says police ignored evidence that might have pointed to someone else committing the crime, objected to jurors seeing photos of the exhumation and of Janet Abaroa's eyes – photos he described as "unnecessarily gory."

Raven Abaroa, 33, became visibly upset, his face turning red and eyes tearing up as attorneys talked about the matter.

The state hasn't offered a clear motive for Janet Abaroa's death but has painted Raven Abaroa as a controlling husband with a pattern of verbal abuse against women, including his second wife, who testified that he shoved her against a wall during an argument on the day of her bridal shower.

Prosecutors appear to be close to wrapping up their case. Testimony lasted for less than two hours Thursday and will resume Monday, when they plan to call a computer forensics examiner to testify about information on Janet Abaroa's work computer.

Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks told Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson that the hard drive from the computer, as well as a PDA found in Raven Abaroa's SUV, were found Thursday morning sealed in a locked cabinet at the Durham Police Department.

Court is recessed until Monday to give both the state and defense a chance to analyze the items.


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  • canucmypointofview May 20, 2013

    Well, we've waited 8 years to go to court, a delay last week for newly "found" evidence, what's 30 more min for court to even start today..

  • Lightfoot3 May 17, 2013

    “I do not see what the contacts have to do with anything.” – ncsubvet

    They’re hoping that the jurors are stupid enough to believe that since the husband said she was getting ready for bed, then she would not have had her contacts in (given testimony from those that think he’s guilty said she doesn’t sleep in them), therefore he’s lying about her getting ready for bed, and if he’s lying, he’s a murderer. They’re hoping that the jurors are too stupid to consider any other possible scenario. As carolinaprincess62 said, they’re grasping for straws. They don’t have any evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that actually PROVES he murdered her.

  • carolinaprincess62 May 17, 2013

    nscubvet: What they are saying is that if she was getting "in" to bed then she wouldn't have had her contacts in. Therefore he is lying because she didn't wear her contacts to bed. However, if she was like me and can't see worth a darn, she could have gotten ready for bed, gotten in to bed to read for a little while and then was going to get back up and take them out. Or she wasn't getting in to bed but getting ready for bed. Lots of scenarios and I think they are grasping for straws.
    As for that wife he pushed around, I have no confidence in her testimony at all.

  • valleyGirl May 17, 2013

    I am speculating that the contact lens, again highlights RA's predisposition to lying.

  • ncsubvet May 17, 2013

    I do not see what the contacts have to do with anything. Am I missing something? Can anyone enlighten me?

  • HisLoVe May 16, 2013

    Considering the contact case was likely empty...I say the RPD messed up the investigation.


  • dsroyston May 16, 2013

    And digging up the poor woman's body to check to see if her contacts were in shows poor work done during the autopsy.

  • dsroyston May 16, 2013

    What happened to being innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt? If he shoved his 2nd wife at her bridal shower, then why did she marry him? If it were that much of an issue, she wouldn't have. So she's hardly a credible person to speak against him. Being aggressive, if that's the case, doesn't mean you're a killer. Police and investigators need to do better jobs of proving their cases thru evidence rather than speculation. Show us some actual proof that he lied or that he's guilty before judging him. Too many innocent people going to jail just to make the public feel safe...not the right answer.

  • Hans May 16, 2013

    "Okay, when someone takes out their contacts before bed, it's usually the LAST thing they do. The report said she was "getting ready" for bed when he left. That means she wasn't ready yet, so her contacts were probably still in her eyes!" -
    May 16, 2013 3:30 p.m.

    That's not necessarily true. I usually take mine out an hour or two beforehand and watch TV or read with my glasses.

  • valleyGirl May 16, 2013

    I see the prosecuting team as laying a pretty good foundation. I think they have a lot to go on but nothing in itself that yells guilty, and it only matters what the jury concludes. Right now, I believe they have enough to get a conviction.