Abaroa defense opens with character witnesses

jporter@newsobserver.comMay 22, 2013 

— Raven and Janet Abaroa were playful, loving and happy together with typical newlyweds’ problems jurors heard Wednesday afternoon, from people who knew the couple well.

Raven’s best friend growing up briefly lived with the Abaroas in Charlotte after the couple was married; he said the pair had “a great relationship” from what he understood.

A man and his mother who attended church with Raven and Janet and developed a close friendship with them testified that they were generous to others and considerate of one another.

Raven Abaroa, 33, is charged with first degree murder in the 2005 stabbing death of his pregnant wife at their Ferrand Drive home. He says he was at soccer game in Orange County and found Janet Abaroa’s body in an upstairs room upon returning to the home.

“They spoke like best friends, they were playful and energetic with each other,” Darius Neeringssaid of the couple. Neerings has known Raven since they played soccer together in Utah when they were 10 years old. “It seemed like a happy relationship,” he added.

Neerings slept on the couch at the Abaroas’ Charlotte apartment for several months during the spring of 2003, while he was relocating to the city. During that time he hung out with the couple at home, at the YMCA and at the park playing soccer.

“I never heard any arguments,” Neering said. “If they did argue, it was behind closed doors. We were in a small apartment so there was no yelling or that sort of thing.”

Neering said that Raven, who worked for Hewlett-Packard at that time, only confided in him about financial problems, but said the Abaroas lived in a “nice” apartment and Raven owned three vehicles, a motorcycle and various computer devices.

Neering told prosecutors that Raven was a good person toward him “and to everyone I witnessed him being around.”

Zach Foxley met Janet and Raven Abaroa through the Mormon church in Fredericksburg, Va. He recalled a time when they took him to a professional soccer game in Washington, D.C. when he was a teenager, and when they gave him a mountain bike as a gift.

“It meant a lot, I was a fifteen-year-old kid,” Foxley said. “I thought they were both so cool, they were married, happy, obviously in love when they came over (to his house). I thought I was just so special to them…”

Foxley said Raven and Janet were playful and jokey together, and made each other laugh.

“They were very influential on me,” he said. “(They were) my kind of example, as a teenager, of the relationship I wanted to have with my wife in the future.”

Foxley’s mother, Misty Foxley, got to know the Abaroas through a marriage class for young Mormon couples that she taught. She said they always treated each other with respect and interacted normally together and with the other couples in the class.

After Janet’s death, Raven came to stay at the Foxleys’ home in Virginia before moving back to Utah(CQ). Misty Foxley described Raven’s behavior at the time as typical of someone grieving.

“Raven was taking care of himself and taking care of (his baby son) Kaiden,” she said. “He couldn’t do anything else. He was acting like a traumatized person.”

Ms. Foxley said Raven was always a good father to Kaiden.

“He fed Kaiden and changed him,” she said. “He never passed (caring for Kaiden) off onto my (daughters). It was comforting to see him to take care of Kaiden. It seemed like he knew what he was doing.”

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