DURHAM — Raven Abaroa’s younger brother told jurors Thursday morning that Raven was a good brother to him growing up and a good father, and that he seemed to be in love with his wife Janet in the months before her stabbing death.
Derek Abaroa visited his brother and sister-in-law at their home on Ferrand Drive in fall 2004. The three of them went hiking together, stopped in at music stores, and toured around Durham; Janet was pregnant with the couple’s son Kaiden at the time.
Raven Abaroa, 33 , is charged with first-degree murder in Janet Abaroa’s death. He says he is innocent, and that he found his wife’s body in an upstairs room of their home upon returning from a soccer game in Orange County.
“They were a happy married couple,” Derek Abaroa, who is two years younger than Raven, told the jury. “They renewed my faith in marriage. I was just so happy to see them in love. … Raven was a goofball, always making jokes, and Janet would jump in and tease him a little.”
Jurors also saw family photographs of Raven and Janet together, and photos of Raven with Kaiden as a baby and as an older child. They were all smiling and appeared to be happy.
Derek Abaroa said he understood Raven was raising Kaiden in Utah after Janet’s death.
Kaiden “loves his dad,” he said. “They would always be together and smiling, and Kaiden seemed to find comfort in his father’s arms. They seemed to be doing well.”
More email testimony
The Abaroas’ close friend Misty Foxley provided emails between herself and Raven in which Raven describes coping after Janet’s death.
“I thought coming to Utah would allow me the ability to run from all my depression,” Raven wrote in one email, “but truthly (sic) and realistically, the pain follows me wherever I go and I must be strong through it.”
Foxley testified that she was “disappointed” to learn of Raven’s unfaithfulness in his marriage to Janet.
“They were a close couple who seemed to have a genuine concern and love for each other, a lot of natural affection,” Foxley said. “But it doesn’t surprise me because it’s so common, it happens in so many marriages. … People do stupid things in their marriages all the time, good people, and a lot of people don’t see it coming.”
Jennifer Walker, Abaroa’s girlfriend during the time he and Janet separated in 2004, and who testified earlier this month, took the witness stand again Thursday afternoon. She told prosecutors she “vaguely remembered” an email Raven sent her in which he said he dreamed he beat up a guy who was with Walker and ended up in bed with her.
Walker provided investigators with an email Janet had sent to her after Janet and Raven reunited, asking her to stop talking to Raven.
“I told Raven if he wanted to be with you then fine (sic) I don’t care (sic) I’m not his charity case and I would be fine without him,” Janet apparently wrote to Walker. “He said that he didn’t want to be with you so I don’t appreciate you commenting or thinking that if only I wasn’t pregnant (with Kaiden) you could be together. Please leave us alone, he has a lot of problems he is trying to work out and we don’t need you involved stirring things up.”
Jurors saw copies of that email and others between Raven Abaroa and Walker in which they discuss her looking for a new job.
The defense expects to present more evidence Friday and possibly into next week.