DURHAM — A witness in the Raven Abaroa murder trial testified Tuesday that Janet Abaroa tried to get her husband into therapy and that “she was scared of him.”
Jurors also heard from a woman who had a relationship with Raven Abaroa while he was separated from his wife, and from two other women who testified that Abaroa came on to them while he was married.
Jennifer Walker worked with the Abaroas at a sporting goods company in Hillsborough. She and Abaroa struck up a friendship that became more when he and his wife split up briefly in 2004. Abaroa moved into a Burlington apartment on the same street where Walker held a second job at a newspaper.
“I stopped seeing him when Janet found out she was pregnant,” Walker said. “When she found out, she moved in, and we stopped seeing each other.”
Walker said Raven Abaroa seemed to want to work things out with his wife for the sake of their baby, Kaiden.
Abaroa is charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of Janet Abaroa eight years ago, when she was pregnant again. He says he returned to the couple’s Durham home from a soccer game in Orange County on April 26, 2005, to find Janet Abaroa’s body in an upstairs room.
Charlotte Revell, a friend of the Abaroas when they all lived in Charlotte, said she called Raven with a work question in 2003 and stopped by his apartment at his suggestion.
“He said he wanted to show me something on his computer,” Revell told jurors. “He tried to pull me into his lap, and I resisted. I was going to leave because I was freaked out.”
Revell said Abaroa was trying to show her a sex tape of him and Janet.
When they heard Janet Abaroa’s footsteps in the hall outside, Raven Abaroa “guided (her) strongly” into a closet, saying his wife would be mad if she saw Revell there. Revell hid in the closet until Janet Abaroa left.
Meghan Dowd Councill said something similar occurred when the couple was staying at her parents’ house in Virginia over the 2004-05 winter holidays.
“I walked through (the room), and he said, ‘I want to show you something on my computer. Come sit on my lap,’ ” she testified. “He moved his computer and patted his lap, and said, ‘Don’t worry, Janet’s downstairs.’ … It was weird, and I walked away.”
Councill said Janet Abaroa tried unsuccessfully to get her husband to see a therapist.
“She said … he refused,” Councill testified. “He said he didn’t have a problem and was not going to see a therapist. She told me things were getting weird and that Raven was making her nervous and she was scared of him.”
Jurors also heard from two of Janet’s co-workers Tuesday.
Cathy Cheek said Janet Abaroa was often upset at work, especially when she and her husband were separated and she found out she was pregnant with Kaiden.
“She just cried and said it wasn’t going to be good, Raven wasn’t going to be happy because he didn’t want a child at that time,” Cheek said. “She didn’t know why he was treating her that way. She said he was thoroughly mean to her, he would holler at her a lot.”
Cheek and Janet Abaroa’s boss, Amanda Tabor, recalled an incident at work after the Abaroas reconciled.
Janet Abaroa had a doctor’s appointment and wanted Raven Abaroa to go with her.
“They were out in the hallway, and I just heard Raven say, ‘Janet, you know I can’t leave without more notice. I can’t just leave,’ ” Tabor said. “He sounded angry. Janet was embarrassed. She knew we had heard, and she had tears in her eyes.”
Both Tabor and Cheek said they never saw any signs of physical abuse.