Local News

Jury selection begins in Durham mom's stabbing death

Posted April 23, 2013 11:39 a.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2013 7:30 p.m. EDT

— Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the first-degree murder trial of a man accused of killing his wife in their Durham home nearly eight years ago.

Raven Samuel Abaroa, 33, was arrested nearly five years after, he says, he found Janet Christiansen Abaroa, 25, dead in the bedroom of their home after he returned home from a soccer game on April 26, 2005.

An autopsy found Janet Abaroa had been stabbed in the chest and neck and that she was recently pregnant. The couple already had a 6-month-old son, Kaiden. He was at home when his mother was killed but was unharmed.

Authorities haven't commented on a motive for the crime, but new court documents show that Janet Abaroa told a number of friends in the months prior to her death that she feared her husband and that he had a temper.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, earlier Tuesday, denied a motion by Raven Abaroa's attorney, Amos Tyndall, to dismiss the case, citing shoddy police work, questionable police tactics and a discredited former agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Tyndall argued that investigators focused solely on their client to the exclusion of others, ignoring a blood stain on a door frame that contained unidentified DNA, and that valuable evidence had been destroyed, released or allowed to deteriorate in the years since the crime and an arrest.

Tyndall also pointed to SBI testing of a sweatshirt Raven Abaroa had worn in which an analyst determined a stain could have only been created by pressure from a living person. The test was linked to Duane Deaver, a longtime blood analyst who was fired two years ago amid an independent review of questionable practices at the North Carolina State Crime Lab.

Raven Abaroa, who left North Carolina with his son after his wife's death, was arrested Feb. 1, 2010, at his home in Montpelier, Idaho.

In September 2008, he remarried.

His wife, Vanessa Pond, later went to Durham police investigators, claiming rapid mood swings, verbal abuse and physical violence, she said in a May 2009 interview with FOX 50's NC Wanted.

Raven Abaroa never commented on Pond's claims.

In an October 2007 NC Wanted interview, however, he denied killing his wife, saying that the couple had problems in their marriage but that they were working through them when she died.

"Things really started to make sense for us, and that's one of the hardest things with her passing for me is that I don’t understand why everything can all the sudden become so perfect and you can resolve all your problems and you can grow together and you can become parents together," he said in that interview. "Then, by whatever powers, whatever means, she's allowed to have her life taken and leave this earth, and to me, to this day it’s still hard to comprehend."

Raven Abaroa's trial is expected to last two to three weeks. If he's found guilty of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison.