Local News

No death penalty sought in Durham mother's slaying

Posted March 2, 2010

— Prosecutors said Tuesday that they won't seek the death penalty against a former Durham resident charged with killing his wife almost five years ago.

Raven Abaroa, 30, was arrested Feb. 1 at his home in Montpelier, Idaho. He is charged with first-degree murder in the April 2005 slaying of 25-year-old Janet Christiansen Abaroa.

Initial hearing held for man charged in wife's death Web only: Abaroa makes initial court appearance

During a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens set Abaroa's bond at $5 million.

Janet Abaroa was stabbed to death in an upstairs bedroom at her 2606 Ferrand Drive home. She was pregnant at the time, and the Abaroas’ then-6-month-old son, Kaiden, was in the home. He was unharmed.

Assistant Durham County District Attorney Jim Dornfried said Tuesday that a bloody sweatshirt links Abaroa to his wife's death. In asking for the $5 million bond, he also noted that Abaroa lied to investigators by telling them he lived near Salt Lake City when he was in Idaho.

Dornfried said he met Tuesday with Janet Abaroa's mother, four sisters and other relatives, and they asked that the death penalty not be considered at trial. They said Kaiden had already lost his mother, and they didn't want him to lose his father as well, Dornfried said.

Abaroa has maintained his innocence in the case. In an October 2007 interview with NC Wanted, he said he was at a soccer game in Morrisville when she was killed. He found her when he returned home, he said.

Defense attorney Amos Tyndall said Tuesday that he wants to know more about the evidence Durham police have collected in the case before arguing for a lower bond.

A representative of Janet Abaroa's family said last week that the family wants Abaroa held without bond, fearing he will flee the area if he's released before his trial.

"He's gone by several different names. We know that he has at least three driver's licenses from three different states," Tim Dowd said as Abaroa returned to Durham from Idaho to face the murder charge.

Kaiden was placed in the custody of his paternal grandmother in Utah after his father's arrest, authorities said.

Janet Abaroa's family has hired an attorney in Utah to pursue custody of Kaiden, Dowd said.


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  • terminatrixator Mar 5, 2010

    As much as I hate what Raven did to Janet and her little unborn angel baby, I wouldn't want to have to look Kaiden in the eye and say, well your Daddy killed your Mommy, so I want your daddy to die. You may not agree with it, but that's a burden I wouldn't want to carry on my shoulders. First Degree murder comes with the sentence of LWOP or the Death Penalty and that should be something the jurors decide on and I think Janet's family has had to suffer enough for the past several years without people criticizing them regarding this, it shows a lot of class and character, in my opinion.

  • Boo Mar 4, 2010

    Just one question - why not seek the death penalty?

  • ncmickey Mar 4, 2010

    IF the father took the mothers life. With this judicial system in NC, who knows who really killed the woman... I'll wait for the evidence before I make judgement...

  • shortcake53 Mar 3, 2010

    The child will lose his father anyway by spending the rest of his life behind bars, so that should not be a reason for avoiding the death penalty. The child lost his mother and father the night his father took his mothers life.

  • ImaBee Mar 3, 2010

    Zachiarose: Maybe you didnt read the whole article but if you look at the quote below, the victim's family did not want him to get the death penalty.

    "Dornfried said he met Tuesday with Janet Abaroa's mother, four sisters and other relatives, and they asked that the death penalty not be considered at trial. They said Kaiden had already lost his mother, and they didn't want him to lose his father as well, Dornfried said."

  • meh2 Mar 2, 2010

    There is no death penalty in NC, regardless of what the DA seeks. It's moot.

  • jurydoc Mar 2, 2010

    While the DA has sole discretionary power to decide if a case will proceed capitally, there is guidance provided in statute. The charge must not only be first degree murder, which, by definition is premeditated and deliberate, but there also must be evidence in support of at least one statutory aggravating circumstance. These are limited to what appears in statute and include things like: the murder was committed for pecuniary gain, the victim was a law enforcement, corrections officer or fire fighter, the murder was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel, etc. Also, even if the DA does not charge capitally, if the charge is first degree murder, the sentence, if guilty, is life without parole.

  • savannahandcalesgamma Mar 2, 2010

    I wonder how do the parents of an accused killer get custody of the kids??? That is unconscionable!!

  • Tarheelfan13 Mar 2, 2010

    I don't think prosecuters should have the sole authority to seek the death penalty or not in these murder cases. I think that should be the sole decision of the jury in the case of a conviction. I don't think that the local DA should really have the sole decision on whether the death penalty is on the table or not. It is not fair for the families that one man could make that decision. IMHO, juries should retain that power solely.

  • zachiarose Mar 2, 2010

    No death penalty? What would it take for an "accused" cold-blooded killer to receive this? He killed pregnant woman...so right there he killed not one but two human beings....why should the state pick up his tab for existing in our prisons? Maybe....if he behaves himself for a couple of years he will be paroled......what chance do we honest law-abiding citizens have with this ridiculous concept? No death penalty? How about letting the victims families just take care of wiping this garbage off the earth. Will be no cost to the state....any victims family will gladly erase them from the earth for free.............