Local News

Plea deal could be in works for Raven Abaroa

Posted June 5, 2013

— A plea deal could be in the works for Raven Abaroa, whose first-degree murder trial for the stabbing death of his wife ended Friday with a Durham jury deadlocked at an 11-1 vote in favor of a guilty verdict.

01 - Janet Abaroa murder case Complete trial coverage

Durham County Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks and Mani Dexter, a member of Aberoa's defense team, were in court Wednesday morning, but he was not, Dexter said, because of media attention surrounding the case and the possibility that he will face a new trial.

Coggins-Franks, who indicated in court Friday that the state plans to re-try Abaroa, argued that he should be present for certain matters before the court, including discussions about a possible plea deal.

Dexter, would not comment about a deal, and Coggins-Franks could not be reached for comment following Wednesday's hearing.

A new trial date has not been set.

Abaroa, 33, who is being held in the Durham County jail without bond, is accused of fatally stabbing Janet Marie Christiansen Abaroa, 25, in their Durham home on the night of April 26, 2005.

He 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.

If a plea deal were to be offered, it wouldn't be the first time. Defense attorneys reportedly rejected an offer prior to the five-week trial.

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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  • itsmyownopinion Jun 6, 2013

    I heard he turned down the plea deal. Maybe he's not guilty, unlike James Waller, who accepted a plea deal for murdering his estranged wife.

  • cyndistevenson Jun 6, 2013


    An innocent man isn't taking a plea deal.

    His counsel is smart enough to realize that to 11 of the 12 jurors, the state DID prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.

    People need to realize that there's not always a video tape of the defendant committing the crime.

    Sometimes reasonable doubt is eliminated entirely on circumstantial evidence.

  • canucmypointofview Jun 6, 2013

    @jackleg - The other guy is Scott Hall - his testimony is @ Day 19 - Janet's highschool sweetheart. A copy of the racey emails are on here too. IDK if his DNA was ever taken, but with the way this investigation went, I doubt it!

  • areyououtofyourmind Jun 6, 2013

    I've been out of pocket for a while here. Was it confirmed that the lone vote was for innocent? Last story I read didn't specify what way the 11-1 went. I looked for a follow up story but found none.

  • jackleg Jun 6, 2013

    Also, people here always say they'd NEVER take a deal if they were innocent. In college at NCSU, my girlfriend at the time was really drunk at a party and trying to argue with me. I removed myself from the situation and went home. 30 minutes later when I was in bed, she "let herself in" my house to wake me up and pick a fight with me.

    I got really upset (so did my roomates) that she would DRIVE to my house and break in at 3am just to yell at me. I made the mistake of taking her keys from her and telling her to either call a cab or sleep on the couch. Eventually, she kept beating on my door so I got fed up and gave her the keys back and she left.

    Soon, 4 RPD cops came and arrested me for 2nd degree kidnapping (which I believe is a class D felony). I was booked at Wake County Jail under $25,000 bail. I COULD have fought it, but I was so scared of that long prison term (and the atty bill) that I plead to misdemeanor false imprisonment and did probation. It happens a lot..

  • jackleg Jun 6, 2013

    I tried to get some answers on websleuths, but folks there dislike me because I wonder why the posters there seem to ALWAYS find men guilty of murdering their wives. Maybe one of the more reasonable GOLO posters can clear up something for me.

    I read in The Durham Herald that the main investigator "testified that Raven Abaroa returned to Durham on July 28, 2005, went to the Duke Hospital emergency room to give hair and DNA sample to investigators", 2 months or so after the murder. From what I understand, it didn't match DNA found at the scene marked as "unknown".

    Then, of course, we find out a week before the trial ends about the other guy. I'm wondering if it has been stated or printed anywhere WHO this man is, or if his DNA was requested and/or excluded.

    If I were him, the only way I'd take a plea deal would be for something like involuntary manslaughter with time served, and walk out tomorrow.

  • Hugh Jass Jun 5, 2013

    If he is smart he will take the plea, knowing he was one vote away from conviction.

    But the next jury might not see it like the first, PLUS with the additional evidence being withheld by the state, it could make a big difference. Even if they arrive at a dead lock the second time, what then? A third? I doubt it.

  • dollibug Jun 5, 2013

    An INNOCENT PERSON accused of a crime should NEVER EVER TAKE A PLEA DEAL********the State should have to PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT HE IS GUILTY OF THE CRIME HE IS ACCUSED OF......I am still wondering just why it took SO LONG TO CHARGE THIS MAN, IF INDEED THEY HAVE THE *EVIDENCE* to prove it.

  • whoami Jun 5, 2013

    I think he will reject the plea deal because he believes in his innocence. If he takes the plea deal, then it, for me, equates to his admission that he commited the crime. If he rejects it, the State has to come up with a much better plan the 2nd time around. If he accepts it, the State got lucky because they presented a weak case.

  • Alexia.1 Jun 5, 2013

    BigUNCFan, we also have the story where 3 people went into a woman's apartment in Raleigh just the other day and killed her, but did not kill the child. Same kind of thing and not so different from the Jason Young case, either. I wish police would actually look for hard evidence, rather than assume guilt of the spouse and then look for every reason to blame them.

    If my wife died tomorrow, they'd probably say I was angry at my wife for damaging the rear bumper on her car this morning. (I'm not, so let make it clear.) She lost her job, so they'd argue there is financial strain. These little things in life happen to us all the time and our "great detectives" just try to find the hardships in our lives and use that as a weapon... truth be damned.