Trial in Durham woman's 2005 death approaches
Posted April 12, 2013
Durham, N.C. — A judge ruled Friday that evidence secured by a Durham woman shortly after her sister was killed eight years ago could be used as evidence in her brother-in-law's upcoming trial.
Raven Abaroa, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the April 26, 2005, death of his wife, 25-year-old Janet Abaroa. She was pregnant with the couple's second child when she was stabbed to death in an upstairs room at the couple's home. Their 6-month-old son was in the home but was unharmed.
Raven Abaroa has maintained that he was at a soccer game when his wife was killed and that he found her when he returned home later that night. He was arrested in February 2010 in Idaho, where he had moved with his son, Kaiden, after Janet Abaroa's death.
Jury selection in the case is expected to begin on April 22, and Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson heard several pre-trial motions on Friday.
Defense attorney Amos Tyndall asked that evidence found on Raven Abaroa's computer not be allowed at trial, arguing that it was obtained without a search warrant.
Sonja Flood, one of Janet Abaroa's sisters, testified that she found computer discs in her brother-in-law's duffel bag while he was staying with her in Virginia shortly after Janet Abaroa's death. She said she had become suspicious that he was involved in the stabbing after investigators told her he had refused to take a polygraph test.
All of the files on one disc were dated the day before the stabbing, Flood said, and they included some "pornographic pictures" of her sister that she worried might be made public. So, she made copies of the disc and later gave them to police, she said.
Hudson ruled that there was no illegal search in the case and said the evidence could be used during the trial.
The judge also refused a defense request to bar cameras from the courtroom during the trial. The defense's motion to suppress evidence seized from Raven Abaroa's computer in Idaho is expected to be heard next Friday.
Janet Abaroa's family said the eight-year wait for Raven Abaroa's trial has been difficult.
"We just want it over, I guess," said Connie Christiansen, Janet Abaroa's sister-in-law. "The only thing that keeps us going is prayer, knowing that the Lord is helping us and carrying us through this."
Janet Abaroa's mother, Janet Christiansen, said she misses her daughter and grandson – he lives in Utah with Raven Abaroa's mother – and is having trouble sleeping as the trial approaches.
If convicted, Raven Abaroa faces a life sentence in prison without parole.