Janet Abaroa's sister testifies in murder trial

Raven Abaroa in court.
May 9, 2013 2:07:12 PM PDT
The sister of Janet Abaroa shed tears on the witness stand Thursday. Sonja Flood told the jury why Janet stayed in her marriage to Raven Abaroa that may have claimed her life.

Flood had to fight back tears, as she talked about her sister's commitment to her faith. It's the reason why, Flood said, Janet stayed in a marriage many witnesses have said was broken, marred by infidelity and now allegations of murder.

Janet's sister says she suffered from bouts of depression during her separation from her husband, Raven, and that she'd sought therapy during that difficult time.

"She didn't know why he had cheated on her," said Flood. "Even at the separation, she said he had asked her to leave him. Still she said she wouldn't do it. He kept saying more mean things then he said 'I'm leaving.' She clearly stated that he'd left her."

The former lead investigator in the 2005 murder told jurors Thursday that Raven Abaroa had a $500,000 insurance policy on Janet's life.

Bennie Bradley said his investigation showed Raven had a $1 million policy on himself. He allegedly filed a claim on Janet's policy after she was found stabbed to death in their home in April 2005.

Abaroa has maintained he had nothing to do with Janet's death and was at a soccer game when she was murdered. He told investigators he stopped at a convenience store to purchase a drink on the way home from the game.

Jurors watched surveillance video of him in the store Thursday.

Prosecutors have tried to show how Abaroa's attitude toward his wife and his marriage laid the foundation for murder. They say he had extramarital affairs, wanted out of the marriage, and was having money problems.

Bradley said on the witness stand Thursday that the couple had been to their church bishop the week before the murder for a counseling session.

"The meeting was to address marital issues. The bishop wouldn't elaborate citing confidentiality. He said the issues were not unusual for a young couple with child, financial issues," said Bradley.

The defense has introduced some evidence as well, including emails between detectives and members of Janet's family.

The defense has maintained that investigators overlooked key evidence in the case and they've raised questions whether they ignored potential suspects.

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