Attorney points out inconsistencies in investigation
A detective who pointed out inconsistencies in Raven Abaroa’s story found his own investigation under fire during defense questioning on Wednesday.
Abaroa, 33, is standing trial for first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife, Janet Marie Christiansen Abaroa, 25, at their home on Ferrand Drive in Durham on April 26, 2005.
Prosecutors have been presenting evidence against Abaroa for more than two weeks starting with statements he made to the lead detective after he came home from a soccer game and found his wife dead in the upstairs office of their home.
Since then, the case has had a number of lead detectives, and for a day and half, the most recent lead detective, Charles Sole, was on the stand. On Wednesday, defense attorney, Amos Tyndall, continued his cross-examination of Sole.
On Tuesday, Sole testified that "the thing that concerned me, (Raven) claimed this knife was left visible in the crime scene and that's just not true."
Tyndall questioned him about whether Abaroa claimed to have seen the knife at the crime scene or whether he told the first detective that he kept some knives in a bin in the office.
"Raven said it was in a bin, and they packed it?" Tyndall asked.
"That sounds like the conversation," Sole agreed.
"Mr. Abaroa never said it was left visible at the crime scene," Tyndall said.
Tyndall also questioned Sole about a PowerPoint presentation of the evidence that he and other detectives prepared while working with Tim Dowd, a friend of the Abaroa family in Virginia.
Tyndall asked Sole about the first item in the presentation that said that a key fob on a set of keys from the Abaroa home tested positive for blood.
Was it true a test had been conducted by a crime scene analyst in 2005 that showed the keys and fob tested negative for blood? Sole said yes.
"Six years before your PowerPoint?" Tyndall asked.
"Yes," Sole said.
Tyndall asked if detectives ever tried to investigate anyone other than Abaroa.
"The truth is almost everyone focused on Mr. Abaroa since 2005," Tyndall said.
"Yes," Sole said.
Tyndall also asked Sole if the detective had ever asked that DNA from a blood stain found on the side door of the home be further tested because tests showed that someone else's DNA – not Raven’s - was in the mix of Janet's blood on the door.
Sole said no.
Later in the day, several people from the insurance business testified that Raven and Janet Abaroa applied for life insurance policies for $1 million for Raven and $500,000 for Janet in August 2004.
Tyndall asked if it was common for young couples about to have a baby to apply for life insurance, and the agent said yes, it was common.
Other insurance employees testified that Raven called about the claim for Janet after her death but couldn't give details because he was so upset.
As the company tried to process the claim, it had to prod Abaroa to send in the documentation they needed to complete the claim by sending him letters.
The claim has still not been paid, but it is a valid claim, according to one employee. The insurance company has not yet determined who should get the money. Janet's mother would get the money if the insurance company determines that Raven Abaroa is not eligible for it.
Raven Abaroa in 2009 hired an attorney to try to work out the claim, and the attorney suggested that the proceeds could be put in a trust account for Kaiden, their child, an employee testified.
Dowd also contacted the insurance company, saying that he represented Janet's family. He asked how Janet's mother could make a claim on the policy. The insurance company, however, said it would not deal with Dowd because he was not a legal representative or a member of the family.
Dowd also provided information to the company about the investigation into Raven Abaroa, an employee testified.
Janet's sister, Erika Bakey, also testified Wednesday. Before Janet met Raven or when he wasn't around, Janet was lively, fun and always playing pranks, but once she married Raven, her personality seemed to disappear, Bakey testified.
"I noticed as time went on her personality was slowly ... it felt like she was slowly disappearing," Bakey said.
When asked if she still saw any signs of her fun, upbeat sister, Bakey said no.
"I don't want to say empty because she still had a soul, but her personality was gone," Bakey said.
For a time after they married, Janet, who was attending college at Southern Virginia University, and Raven lived in different towns because Raven was employed elsewhere. Janet had to call her husband to get permission to go out to dinner with her friends and her sister, and often Abaroa would say no, Bakey testified.
After the birth of Kaiden, her sister seemed happy again, Bakey said.
The trial is scheduled to resume Thursday at 9:30 a.m.