Testimony about his son brings Raven Abaroa to tears
Posted May 24, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Raven Abaroa was brought to tears Friday as the jury that will decide whether he is guilty of killing his wife saw photos of the couple's 8-year-old son, who is now being raised by Raven Abaroa's mother and stepfather in Utah.
"He is really smart," Abaroa's stepfather, Jim Bolton, said. "He's a good speller. He's participating in all kinds of activities. He's a lead in a school play."
Kaiden Abaroa loves the guitar and competitive biking, Bolton said, and is also active in after-school dancing and art classes.
"He's a fun little boy," Abaroa's mother, Karyn Bolton, testified.
One of the last photos the jury of seven men and five women saw Friday was of Kaiden taken in late January 2010, two or three days before Raven Abaroa, 33, was arrested for Janet Abaroa's April 26, 2005, stabbing death.
He has denied any involvement in her slaying, saying he was playing in a soccer match that night and returned to their Durham home to find Kaiden, 6 months old at the time, unharmed and his 25-year-old wife dead on the floor in an upstairs office.
An autopsy found she stabbed three times, including once to the neck, and that she was in the early stages of pregnancy.
Over the course of the five-week trial, defense attorneys have sought to show that Durham police have no evidence linking their client to the crime and that they focused only on Raven Abaroa as a suspect.
The defense contends that police ignored evidence that could have cleared Raven Abaroa, including unknown DNA in a blood stain on a door, an unknown finger print on a closet door, a bloody shoeprint by Janet Abaroa's body and two dozen reports of suspicious activity in the neighborhood in the weeks prior to the death.
Over the past four days, they've focused on the hard drive of Janet Abaroa's computer that was stored for nearly 8 years in an evidence locker at the Durham Police Department and only discovered last week.
But testimony Friday centered on Raven Abaroa as a father – the defense's effort to rebuild his image after it says prosecutors painted a "dishonest portrait" of their client and his relationship with his wife.
Kaiden Abaroa recently wrote a letter of "10 stuff why I love you" to his father that he gave to his grandmother to give to him.
"He just out of the blue handed it to me and said, 'Would you send it to dad?'" Karen Bolton testified.
Among the reasons listed: "Because me and you are a family and mommy too;" "because I have a great life being your son;" "because you can tell me what mommy was like;" and "because you took care of me and look out for me."
Karyn Bolton was the 17th and final witness for the defense before it rested its case Friday afternoon.
Prosecutors, who plan to offer rebuttal witnesses when court resumes after the Memorial Day holiday, have sought to show that the Abaroas were having financial problems and that Raven Abaroa was an unfaithful, domineering, quick-tempered and verbally abusive husband.
State witnesses testified that Janet Abaroa feared her husband, thought he had bipolar disorder and that over the course of their nearly eight-year relationship, became broken and only a shell of the woman she once was.
But Karen Bolton described Janet Abaroa as "a quiet leader" with a strong personality and dry sense of humor while her son was more outgoing.
"I think she liked that about him," she said. "He more or less introduced her to people and I think she gained more confidence in herself that way."
Karen Bolton testified that she knew about some of the couple's marital and financial problems and also about a brief separation in 2004 – after Raven Abaroa admitted to cheating on his wife.
Janet Abaroa called her, Karen Bolton said, because she didn't know what to do.
"She said, 'I'm just so mad at him, and I'm calling you because I know you'd understand,'" she recalled. "I immediately said, 'Dump him. He's not good enough for you. I think she was shocked."
But when Janet Abaroa found out she was pregnant, they started working on their marriage.
"She felt that they were really communicating, and she understood Raven and where he was coming from and he understood her, and they were really getting it," Karen Bolton testified. "I just remember her telling me, 'I love him, and we love each other and this is an eternal marriage."
"I was really impressed that they were that mature to fix a marriage and their communication, versus bail," she added.