Durham, N.C. — Blood on Raven Abaroa's sweatshirt appeared to be inconsistent with a statement he made to police investigators that he hugged his wife after finding her balled up in an upstairs room of the couple's Durham home eight years ago.
Thomas Martin, a blood spatter analyst, testified Friday in Abaroa's first-degree murder trial that the T-shirt Janet Abaroa had been wearing when she was stabbed to death had been heavily saturated with blood but that there was only a light amount on the garment Raven Abaroa was wearing.
"If you know, what kind of transfer would occur if somebody hugged Janet Abaroa with her shirt saturated in that way?" Durham County Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Frank asked.
"Depending on the mechanics and location of the hug, there's no indication that that very wet saturated T-shirt came into direct contact with that sweatshirt," Martin responded.
Raven Abaroa,33, has denied any involvement in his 25-year-old wife's April 25, 2005, death, saying he was at a soccer game that night.
Durham police detective Bennie Bradlee testified Wednesday that Raven Abaroa told him that he found Janet Abaroa on her stomach with her knees tucked under her and her head on the floor turned toward the doorway of their home office.
When Raven Abaroa tried talking to his wife and got no response, Bradlee said, he "rolled her over on her back and then held and hugged her."
But Martin said there was no heavy deposit of blood on the sweatshirt that would have been indicative of prolonged contact.
"Whatever contact between the front of that sweatshirt and the blood source had to be minimal,' he said.
Also noteworthy, he said, of his examination of the crime scene and other items was the one-piece sleeper that the Abaroas' 6-month-old son, Kaiden, had been wearing. Martin said he found a right hand print in a direction and location "just counterintuitive to how you would pick a child up."
"That handprint would essentially be upside down in a rather awkward area, as if you were trying to lift the child up."
Raven Abaroa told Bradlee that while he was on the phone with 911 that he went and got Kaiden from his crib and went back into the office and sat down in front of his wife.
Martin drew no further conclusions about Kaiden's clothing, and prosecutors did not elaborate during their questioning about the item.
The state has offered no clear motive for Janet Abaroa's stabbing, but numerous witnesses have testified over the past two weeks that the couple had both financial and marital problems and that Janet Abaroa was scared of her verbally abusive husband.
Investigators have said there was no forced entry into the couple's home on Ferrand Drive and that Raven Abaroa's laptop appeared to be the only item missing.
Police said they received no reports about anything unusual in the neighborhood on the night of the crime, but defense attorneys say detectives ignored several reports of break-ins and strange occurrences in the neighborhood in recent weeks.
They also ignored other evidence, the defense says, including DNA found in a blood stain on a side door leading into the house, an unknown fingerprint in an office closet, a bloody shoeprint near Janet Abaroa's body and a coin found near a creek near the house that was never tested.