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Court sets Jan. 13 retrial date after Raven Abaroa rejects plea deal

Posted June 6, 2013

Raven Abaroa appears in a Durham County courtroom on June 6, 2013, for a hearing to set a date for his second murder trial for the April 26, 2005, stabbing death of his wife, Janet Abaroa.

— A Durham Superior Court judge on Thursday set a Jan. 13 date for the retrial of Raven Abaroa after he turned down a second-degree plea deal in the stabbing death eight years ago of his wife, Janet Abaroa.

01 - Janet Abaroa murder case Complete trial coverage

A jury deadlocked 11-1 last week in favor of a guilty verdict on a first-degree murder charge, forcing Judge Orlando Hudson to declare a mistrial.

Prosecutor Charlene Coggins-Franks said in court that the state offered Raven Abaroa a prison sentence of 19 to 24 years if he pleaded guilty by 1 p.m. to the lesser charge.

If convicted of first-degree murder, he automatically faces life in prison without the possibility of parole since the state is not seeking the death penalty.

Janet Abaroa, 25, was found stabbed to death in an upstairs office of the couple's Durham home on April 26, 2005.

Members of her family said Thursday that they were disappointed that Raven Abaaroa did not accept the state's offer, but that they were not surprised.

"I don't think any member of the family is going to give up until there is resolution," Janet Abaroa's brother, Richard Christiansen, said. "No matter how long it takes, we want to see this process through. We're frustrated, but optimistic for the next time around."

Raven Abaroa and Janet Abaroa Abaroa murder retrial slated for January

Raven Abaroa, 33, has maintained his innocence, saying he was playing in a soccer game and returned home to find his wife 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 was killed.

Testimony in his five-week murder trial spanned 19 days and consisted of 82 witnesses and 565 pieces of evidence. Jurors deliberated for more than 10 hours before Hudson declared a mistrial.

Defense attorneys argued that police focused only on their client as a suspect and ignored or explained away any evidence that could have helped identify another culprit in the case.

But prosecutors argued that Janet Abaroa's death wasn't random and that Raven Abaroa was the only person with any reason to kill her.


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  • Lightfoot3 Jun 7, 2013

    "And so you should speak up for the defense. The prosecutors would have you believe that any husband is an evil maniac." - paulej

    Exactly! If the state is going to present people claiming he had a chain on her neck to yank her around, the defense needs to present people that claim they saw otherwise.

    I hate these type of trials. They are basically character assassinations with no real evidence of guilt. I don't care if he dominated her, or cheated on her (and it seems she was trying to cheat too), or her friends don't like him, or whatever. I want to see PROOF that he murdered her beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • kornfan2448 Jun 7, 2013

    With all the news and social media coverage, they'll have to go the African bush to find impartial jurors.

  • ncteacher22 Jun 6, 2013

    He will be so sad that he didn't take the deal when the next jury sends him away for much longer! DOH!

  • monami Jun 6, 2013

    paulej, as you stated, it's clear you didn't follow the trial closely. Regardless, you make strong statements about him (and men in NC) being railroaded. If you delved into details of the crimes, you might develop a different perspective. Instead, you assume these men are unfairly persecuted.

    Also, the subject of "circumstantial evidence" is often misunderstood/misconstrued by some as invalid evidence. I suggest studying the subject of circumstantial evidence....you may find it enlightening and compelling.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 6, 2013

    "I met the Abaroas once, probably two weeks before Janet's murder. I was in shock for days because I had just met them. They seemed like nice people and you never would have suspected that anything was wrong." --OpenM1nd

    And so you should speak up for the defense. The prosecutors would have you believe that any husband is an evil maniac. The truth, though, is that there is no evidence, so they have to make up whatever they can.

    Stories like yours are important to a fair justice system. If the couple appeared happy and perfectly normal, there is a good chance that they were!

  • OpenM1nd Jun 6, 2013

    I met the Abaroas once, probably two weeks before Janet's murder. I was in shock for days because I had just met them. They seemed like nice people and you never would have suspected that anything was wrong. This is so sad. My condolences to the families for getting dragged through this over and over again.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 6, 2013

    "Committing murder is easy in North Carolina. Just destroy the CSI evidence and the hard evidence craving jurors will let you walk. Wow." --Obamacare for life

    There should be hard evidence. The only "evidence" I heard (and I'll admit I did not follow the story closely) was that he had a life insurance policy on his wife, was charged with embezzlement, was financially strained, and ... that's it. So, with that, he must be a murderer?

    If a man ever finds his wife dead in NC, he'd better flea the country, because jurors in NC will blame the husband, no matter what evidence exists.

  • datenobunaga2 Jun 6, 2013

    "that leaves an hour, plenty of time to kill and dispose."

    Maybe if you are a professional hit man. TOday I went to do a simple deposit and knocked over the tray of slips, dropped the pen twice, and tripped on my shoe lace. Too me 15 minute just for a simple deposit. I am not so sure 1 hour is enough. Just my opinion though.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 6, 2013

    "I don't think you would want the person charged with her murder out and about while waiting for trial" --Proud Young Grandma

    That all depends. Is there a risk of flight? Is there a danger to the public?

    Most of the times where the person has no prior record and the state has virtually no evidence to convict the person in the first place -- nothing more than a nice, well-rehearsed performance they put on for the jury of how "he might have done it" -- then, no, the person ought not be required to sit in jail.

    Jason Young, Brad Cooper, and this man (heck, he was not even arrested for 5 years!) all fit that description. No point taking even one more day away from the man's life than necessary.

  • chercheek Jun 6, 2013

    He had from 7:30 (the last time he was seen by home teacher until he showed up for soccer at 9:00pm to kill Janet, dispose of his bloodied clothes, murder weapon and laptop and get to his soccer game. With the 30 minute travel time that leaves an hour, plenty of time to kill and dispose.