Forensic expert reads emails from Janet Abaroa

Raven Abaroa enters the courtroom.

May 22, 2013 5:04:10 AM PDT
Jurors heard about computer equipment and contents of a hard drive during Tuesday's testimony at Raven Abaroa's murder trial.

Abaroa, 33, is accused of stabbing his pregnant wife Janet to death in their home on Durham's Ferrand Drive back in 2005.

Prosecutors have tried to portray Janet as a woman who was afraid and intimidated by her domineering husband. But Abaroa's defense used information from Janet's work computer to paint a different picture of her Tuesday - suggesting she might have considered an extramarital affair.

Computer forensic expert Jason McCollough told jurors he retrieved flirty, sometimes sexual email messages from Janet to a former boyfriend from the machine which he read in court.

"I guess it wouldn't be good if you told Emily we're going to be by ourselves someplace. I would die laughing if she ever found out," said McCollough reading from one of Janet Abaroa's emails.

The data from the computer hard drive is brand new information in the case. Last Thursday, prosecutors made the surprise announcement that the drive and a phone described as a Palm Pilot belonging to Raven had been located in a locked cabinet with other sealed items at the Durham Police Department. They had apparently been there for eight years.

Abaroa's attorneys tried to use the fact that they weren't told about the existence of the equipment until so late in the trial to get the case dismissed or a mistrial declared. Attorney Amos Tyndall said it was unfair that he didn't have the information to use when cross examining state witnesses.

Judge Orlando Hudson denied both requests.

Tyndall said the computer evidence also showed Janet doing online banking and doing real estate rental searches - countering the prosecution portrait of a woman with no independent will.

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