DURHAM - A judge denied a request to allow Raven Abaroa to return to Utah after the prosecutor asked for his trial date to be moved to April.
Abaroa is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 25-year-old pregnant wife, Janet, in April 2005. He claims he was playing soccer and came home to find his wife had been stabbed to death.
After her death, Abaroa and his son moved first to Utah, where his parents lived, and later to Idaho.
Although his wife was killed in 2005, it wasn’t until February 2010 that he was arrested and charged with her murder. He has been in custody ever since under a $3 million bond.
During a hearing in Durham County Criminal Superior Court Tuesday afternoon, Abaroa sat next to his attorneys, Amos Tyndall and Mani Dexter. Dressed in the standard orange jail jumpsuit, Abaroa listened as Assistant District Attorney Charlene Coggins-Franks told Superior Court Judge Michael O’Foghludha that she had just inherited the case from another assistant district attorney who is leaving the D.A.’s office at the end of the month.
Abaroa’s trial was scheduled for October, but because of a massive amount of discovery from the State Bureau of Investigation, Abaroa’s attorneys received an extra 12 weeks to review thousands of pages of data from the SBI.
Now Coggins-Franks said she would like the same amount of time to review 30,000 pages of discovery and 100 discs of information in order to prepare for a trial in April.
Tyndall said he had no objection to putting the trial off until April, but said he didn’t think his client should have to stay in jail during that extra 12 weeks.
Tyndall argued that blood was discovered on the door of the Abaroa home and that the blood was a mixture of Janet Abaroa’s blood and someone else’s. Tyndall claims the blood found on the door excluded Raven Abaroa as a contributor to the blood.
“For five years, they sat on that,” Tyndall said.
There were also fingerprints in the home that did not match Janet or Raven Abaroa’s fingerprints, he said.
“It doesn’t matter what the evidence is,” Tyndall said. “They’re going to stick to him.”
Tyndall also mentioned a dispute between experts about a blood stain on Abaroa’s shirt, with one expert saying it was Janet’s handprint, meaning she was alive when she touched the shirt. Another expert, however, has said it wasn’t a handprint at all and the blood was already coagulated, meaning she was dead when the blood got on the shirt, Tyndall said.
Tyndall argued that Abaroa was not a flight risk, saying he had completed probation on an embezzlement charge, kept in contact with his probation officers during the probationary period, took care of his son, and was enrolled in a an electrician’s apprenticeship program at the time of his arrest. He could live with his parents in Utah until the trial, he said.
Coggins-Franks argued against allowing Abaroa to be released until the trial, saying that when he left Durham after the slaying, he skipped out on a misdemeanor assault charge, which was not resolved until he was arrested and returned to Durham, she said.
There was confusion about whether he was living in Utah or Idaho, and he had an identification card on him from California that used his former last name of Peters rather than Abaroa.
“We argue that he’s an extreme flight risk,” she said. “He fought coming back. If you let him out, he’ll be gone.”
After hearing from both sides, O’Foghludha denied the request to let Abaroa out of custody and moved the trial date to April 22 or April 29.
Janet Abaroa’s mother, brother and sister attended the hearing.