Jury selection begins in Raven Abaroa murder trial

Apr. 23, 2013 @ 05:53 PM

Jury selection began Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Raven Abaroa after the judge denied a motion to dismiss the charge against him.

Abaroa, 33, is standing trial for allegedly killing his wife, Janet Marie Christiansen Abaroa, 25, in their home on Ferrand Drive in northwestern Durham County on April 26, 2005. Abaroa was not arrested and charged with her murder, however, until February 2010, when he was living in Idaho.

On Monday, Abaroa's attorney, Amos Tyndall, filed a motion to dismiss the murder charge that said Abaroa's due process rights were violated because the state allowed critical evidence to deteriorate or be destroyed.

Tyndall wrote in the motion that bloodstains taken from a door frame in the home came back with two types of DNA. The majority came from Janet Abaroa, but some DNA came from someone else.

That test excluded Raven Abaroa as a contributor to the minor DNA sample, but instead of doing more tests to determine from whom the DNA came, the SBI lab stopped its testing on that sample once it excluded Raven Abaroa as a contributor, Tyndall said.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson denied the motion to dismiss the murder charge Tuesday morning.

By the end of the day Tuesday, prosecutors were satisfied with 12 jurors, and the defense attorneys began questioning those 12. Once defense attorneys finish their questioning and dismiss possible jurors, the clerk will call more potential jurors to fill the empty chairs and the process will start again until both the state and the defense are satisfied with all the jurors.

Abaroa claims he was playing soccer on the evening when his wife was stabbed to death and that he found her dead at home when he returned that night.

Later, he took their baby and moved to Utah, where his parents lived, before next moving to Idaho.

Pre-trial motions and notices have given hints to the state's case, and it is expected that friends and relatives of Janet Abaroa will testify that she told them that Raven had a changeable personality. One day he would be loving and caring, and the next he would be in a rage, proclaiming that he was going to divorce her.

During one pre-trial hearing, Janet Abaroa's sister-in-law testified that, a few days after the murder, she found compact discs in Raven Abaroa's duffle bags containing the contents of his laptop computer, which went missing from the home. The discs had a hand-written date, April 25, 2005, which was the day before Janet Abaroa was murdered.