Abaroa's friends testify about Abaroa marriage

May. 22, 2013 @ 06:54 PM

Raven and Janet Abaroa were playful with each other, loving and considerate of each other, a family friend testified in the murder trial of Raven Abaroa Wednesday.

"They were probably my prime example as a teen of the kind of relationship I'd like to have with my wife in the future," Zach Foxley said Wednesday afternoon.

Raven Abaroa, 33, is on trial for first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife, Janet Marie Christianson Abaroa, 25 in April 2005 at their home on Ferrand Drive in Durham.

Prosecutors introduced witness after witness who testified Raven Abaroa was controlling and mean to Janet, even during the early years of their marriage and especially in the year before her death.

Abaroa's defense attorneys have tried to paint a different portrait of the couple.

Foxley took the stand and told the jury he has just graduated from Southern Virginia University and that his family became close with the Abaroas when he was 14 or 15. The Abaroas came to his family's home for dinner several times a year and before dinner,  Raven and Janet would take all the kids outside and play games with them.

"I thought they were both so cool," Foxley testified. "They were married. They were happy. They were in love."

Foxley said he learned that the couple had had a problem with their relationship but said he heard they had gone to counseling and seemed to be solving their problems. After Raven and Janet had a baby, his large family traveled to Durham for the baby blessing in February 2005, he said.

They interacted like they did before the problems, and seemed very loving to each other, he said.

Foxley, a guitarist, said Raven took him aside that night and asked him to teach him how to play a Kenny Loggins song.

"He wanted to learn to play a children's song so he could sing it to his family," Foxley said.

The next witness to take the stand was Foxley's mother, Misty Foxley.

She also testified about the Abaroas’ visiting their family home in Virginia and said she never saw any sign Raven Abaroa was controlling. They also attended a weekly class she taught through the Mormon church on marriage and parenting, she said.

"You can tell when a woman is being dominated," she said. "It just never entered my mind, never once."

Misty Foxley also testified that although she believed Janet Abaroa loved her family, she was not especially close to them. When the Foxley family traveled to Durham for the baby blessing, only Janet's father and brother were there, not her mother or sisters, she said.

After Janet's death, the Foxleys invited Raven to stay with them, and he did on and off for three or four weeks.

"He was completely broken up," she said. "He was how I would describe a person mourning a great loss, distraught and going through great trauma and shock."

Misty Foxley said she had just gone through a tragic event when her sister's husband committed suicide. She said Raven seemed to experience the same emotions and difficulties her sister had gone through.

"A little more scatterbrained, not able to operate within his full capacity socially or mentally," she said. "He was distraught. He was very sad."

Despite his grief, Raven Abaroa took full care of the baby, Kaiden, changing his diapers, feeding him, rocking him to sleep, she said.

While he stayed at their home, he was trying to decide what to do. He had no family in Durham and didn't want to go back there, Foxley said. He eventually decided to return to Utah, where his family lived, she said.

Because she and her husband knew husbands are often suspects in the murder of their spouses, her husband questioned Raven about what happened, Misty Foxley said.

Raven Abaroa did not say anything inconsistent or act in a way that made them believe he killed his wife, she said.

"We saw stuff on the Internet," Misty Foxley said. "We just said, 'This is a bunch of bologna'. They don't know. They don't know Raven, and they don't know Janet."

Raven Abaroa's best friend, Darius Neerings, who had known him since he was 10 and who lived with the Abaroas in Charlotte in 2003, testified they had a good and happy marriage when he lived with them.

"They were like best friends, very playful and energetic with each other," Neerings said. "It seemed like a happy, happy relationship."

Raven Abaroa was aggressive on the soccer field, but not off, he said. They both were goalies, and goalies have a reputation for having a screw loose, he told the jury with a laugh.

Under cross examination, Neerings admitted Raven never told him about being unfaithful to Janet.

Misty Foxley is scheduled to resume her testimony Thursday.