Judge to consider Abaroa’s motion to dismiss

Apr. 22, 2013 @ 06:50 PM

On the eve of the trial of Raven Samuel Abaroa, charged with killing his wife in 2005, Abaroa’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charge of murder against their client, saying the state allowed critical evidence to deteriorate or be destroyed.

Abaroa, 33, is accused of stabbing his wife, Janet Marie Christiansen Abaroa, 25, to death in their home on Ferrand Drive on April 26, 2005. He was arrested in Idaho and charged with her murder in February 2010.

The motion to dismiss and another pretrial motion may be heard this morning in Durham County Criminal Superior Court, to be followed by the start of jury selection.

In the motion to dismiss, Abaroa claims his due-process rights were violated because the State allowed critical evidence of a possible third party at the crime scene to deteriorate or be destroyed.

Abaroa claims he was playing soccer that evening and came home to find that wife had been murdered. He called 911to report the crime.

Swabs from blood stains on a door frame leading outside were sent to the SBI for testing and the results were reported to the District Attorney’s office in September 2005, according to the motion.

One test showed a mixture of two different DNA types, with the major amount of DNA coming from Janet Abaroa, and a minor amount from someone else. Raven Abaroa was ruled out as the contributor to the minor DNA sample.

Instead of conducting further tests that may have led to a full profile of the minor contributor and a possible suspect other than Abaroa, no further testing occurred, the motion states.

“Although Mr. Abaroa submitted a DNA sample voluntarily understanding that the sample would be used to compare with bloodstains from the scene, investigators with the Durham Police Department denied to Mr. Abaroa that DNA from the bloodstains at the scene indicated the presence of a third party,” the motion states.

“In December 2009, Gerald Thomas of the SBI released a report concluding that the sweatshirt Mr. Abaroa was wearing when police arrived had a handprint that could have only been created by pressure from a living person,” the motion states. “The next month, a warrant for murder was issued for Mr. Abaroa’s arrest, nearly five years after his wife’s death.”

Abaroa was living in Idaho at the time he was arrested.

“In 2011, after Thomas and the man who trained him, Duane Deaver, were widely discredited, the State sent the sweatshirt to a noted crime scene and blood spatter expert, Dr. Herb MacDonnell, who concluded that he could not find any pattern consistent with a human handprint,” the motion states.

At the time of his arrest, valuable evidence had been destroyed, released or allowed to deteriorate, specifically the DNA sample that was not further tested, the motion states

“The State’s failure to properly collect, preserve, and analyze evidence in this case has allowed the State to use these errors against Mr. Abaroa and has deprived Mr. Abaroa of the potential for valuable evidence in his favor,” the motion states.

It’s expected that Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson will hear that motion some time this week before the start of evidence.

Earlier this month, Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks filed two notices of intent to use hearsay evidence during the trial.

In her notices, she wrote of various witnesses who are expected to testify for the State, who will tell the jury about things Janet Abaroa told them about her husband, Raven, saying he seemed to have two different personalities and that she thought he might be bipolar.

“Janet stated that she never new (sic) what she would get each day, the nice Raven or the Raven that was in a complete rage,” the notice quotes Megan Dowd Councill as saying.

In 2004, Janet told Tim Dowd she and Raven were separating and she was pregnant. She wanted Raven to go to counseling and asked Dowd to talk to him about that, the notice states.

“She stated Raven could not control his anger and temper,” the notice states.

The notice tells of four other people that Janet Abaroa talked to about her marriage, and according to them, she said Raven wanted a divorce one minute and told her he loved her the next.

“She stated that Raven loved her one day and the next day he couldn’t stand the sight of her,” the notice states. “Janet stated her greatest fear was that her baby would be alone with Raven.”