Local News

No death penalty sought in Durham mother's slaying

Posted March 2, 2010 4:29 p.m. EST
Updated March 2, 2010 4:55 p.m. EST

— 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.

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.