Defense witnesses answer for Raven Abaroa
Raven Abaroa's brother took the stand Thursday to explain why his brother would have been listed as a single male on a website a week before Janet Abaroa died.
Raven Abaroa, 33, is on trial in Durham County for first-degree murder in the 2005 stabbing death of his wife, Janet Abaroa.
Derek Abaroa testified that around September 2004, he visited his older brother Raven Abaroa and Janet for three days at their home on Ferrand Drive in Durham.
"They received me into their home very warmly," he said. "I was really impressed at how happy they were together. We laughed, we joked. They wanted to hear all about my adventures in South America."
Derek Abaroa told the jury he had a Myspace page for his band in April 2005, when Myspace was "quite cool." Raven Abaroa sent him birthday wishes through the Myspace page April 19, a week before Janet was murdered.
Derek Abaroa said he believed Raven Abaroa joined Myspace just to listen to his music and send him a birthday greeting.
Assistant District Attorney Luke Bumm asked Derek Abaroa whether he knew Raven listed himself as a 25-year-old single male when he registered on the Myspace page. Derek Abaroa testified he believed his brother didn't fill in all the questions when he registered since he was just registering to send a message and that "single" and "male" were the default settings.
Derek Abaroa also explained why he doesn't go by his birth name, Derek Peters, even though it's on his birth certificate and driver's license.
Their biological parents divorced, so he took his mother's last name out of respect for her since she raised the four children, he said. Some family members kept the Peters name, and some use Abaroa as their last name, he said.
Earlier in the trial, a detective testified Raven Abaroa had obtained a California driver's license using the name Raven Peters.
Before Janet's funeral, Derek Abaroa and his stepfather, James Bolton, traveled to Durham from Utah and packed up everything in the Abaroa home. They packed everything unsorted into boxes as quickly as they could, he said.
Raven was at the house with them some of the time but didn't help because he was too upset, Derek Abaroa said.
Earlier in the trial, a detective testified Raven Abaroa said he found a knife, which he thought police should have found while investigating Janet’s murder, when he unpacked belongings in Utah.
Early on Thursday, a family friend of the Abaroas, Misty Foxley, took the stand again. On Wednesday, she said didn't think Janet was very close with her family because her mother and sisters didn't attend Kaiden's baby blessing in February 2005.
Under cross-examination, she was asked if she knew that Janet Abaroa's mother was battling cancer at the time. She responded Janet Abaroa's father had told her Janet's mother was sick but that she still felt badly for Janet.
During cross examination, Foxley suggested Raven Abaroa had a sexual addiction and sought comfort with other women after Janet's death.
"Raven really cares about people," she said. "Each one of these girls he had a relationship with, I believe he really cares about their welfare. He's a good person and he's trying to be a good person."
Jennifer Walker, who had an intimate relationship with Abaroa while he and Janet were separated in 2004, was called back to the stand Thursday to verify emails she exchanged with Raven and Janet Abaroa.
Defense attorney Amos Tyndall showed the jury an email Janet Abaroa sent to Walker in June 2004.
"We are back together and trying to work things out so I would think you would not be spilling your feelings about how much you miss him and all the other crap," Janet wrote.
Janet wrote that she told Raven that if he wanted to go back to Walker he could, but he said he wanted to stay with her.
"He has a lot of problems he is trying to work out and we don't need you involved stirring things up, and if you don't respect that he wants to be with me even though he says he misses whatever friendship you had, then respect the fact that I'm pregnant and have had two other bad pregnancies.”
"Like I said before please leave the both of us alone," Janet Abaroa wrote. "I know he is a good guy and maybe that's why you haven't yet, but he is a husband and a father so let us be a family."