Abaroa's second wife testifies against him
Raven Abaroa's second wife, Vanessa Pond, testified that when she and her parents asked him if he had killed his first wife, Janet Abaroa, he danced around the question and never truly answered.
Pond took the stand Monday afternoon in the trial of Abaroa, 33, who is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife in April 2005 at their Durham home.
Pond testified she met Raven Abaroa in late November or early December 2007 in Utah as she was picking up her daughter from the same day care that Abaroa's son, Kaiden, attended.
Despite fearing that her future husband might be a killer, she testified, she married him and they merged their families. She and her 5-year-old daughter and Abaroa and his 3-year-old son moved in together.
Pond said she very much loved Raven Abaroa but she stayed in the marriage because she wanted to obtain information that would help police charge Abaroa with his wife's murder.
Pond said she wasn't initially impressed with Abaroa but continued to see him because he was "very charming."
After their second or third date, he told her that his wife had been murdered in a home invasion. That night, she went on her computer and researched the case until 4:30 or 5 a.m..
Pond said she watched interviews he did, read articles, listened to the 911 call and visited the websleuths website. Pond, upset, called her best friend and they reviewed the information together. Her friend told her not to worry, she said.
During a conversation, Abaroa said that when he found his wife, she was becoming stiff, so later she called her father, who had been a police officer, and asked him about rigor mortis, she said.
Throughout her testimony, Pond referred to her ex-husband as "the defendant," never calling him by name.
Abaroa's history raised red flags with her parents, especially her father, Pond said, so she brought Abaroa to her parents' home.
Her parents asked Abaroa pointblank whether he had killed Janet, Pond said.
"He did not respond with a yes or no," Pond told the jury. "His response was, 'but I loved my wife.' He danced around the question and ended up changing the subject."
Asked if she had seen signs of violence, Pond said that she had. Raven Abaroa seemed to change into a different person on the soccer field, becoming very aggressive and violent, she said.
On Mother's Day, 2008, the couple got engaged.
While they were dating, Pond said she called the Durham Police Department to ask investigators about the case. Later she began providing information to the investigators.
Asked whether Abaroa ever got violent with her, she said that on the day of her bridal shower, she had just gotten out of the shower when they began arguing. She walked into a closet to dress, and Abaroa trapped her there, she said.
The argument moved into the bedroom, and Abaroa backed her into a corner, Pond said.
"It sounds dumb but he just kept poking me hard in the chest, not enough to leave a bruise, because you can't bruise your second wife when you're already under scrutiny for possibly carving up your first wife, but it was sore for days," Pond testified.
Because of a heart condition, Pond begged him to allow her to sit on the bed. While she was sitting, Abaroa swung as though he was going to hit her in the face, but he stopped his hand just before her cheek, she said.
"He got in my face and laughed at me for flinching, and then laughed as he left the room," Pond said.
Pond said she composed herself and ended up being late to her own bridal shower.
Pond told the jury that early on in her relationship with Abaroa, she began contacting the Durham Police Department.
"He was good at conning and manipulating," she said "He can convince you of anything so I became confused. I would speak to the police. When speaking to police I then became sure he was guilty of this."
Pond said she believed she was the only person in a position to help the police and decided to marry Abaroa.
"If he wasn't really guilty, then we could work on the issues and have a great life," Pond said. "If he was guilty then I could help."
The marriage ended when Abaroa moved out on Christmas Eve, 2008, she said.
Defense attorney Mani Dexter asked her about her research online, including at the website, websleuths.
You know all the information on that site is not accurate, Dexter asked.
"People are entitled to their opinion and I took it as such," Pond said.
Dexter asked her about the wedding and the toast that her father made to Raven, "where he talked about how much he believed in him."
Pond said she hadn't seen the video because Abaroa took it when he left.
After the big argument on the day of the bridal shower, wasn't it Abaroa that called Pond's sister and asked her to come over to talk to both of them. Dexter asked.
Yes, Pond responded, saying he always was calling her friends and family to tell them about their personal issues.
Dexter asked if Pond ended up apologizing to Raven, and she said she did, and he apologized to her as well.