Church member describes Raven Abaroa after wife's death

Raven Abaroa enters the courtroom.

May 22, 2013 2:42:59 PM PDT
A former member of Raven Abaroa's church took the stand Wednesday in his murder trial saying Raven was crying and upset following the death of his wife, Janet.

From controlling, abusive husband to grieving spouse, the defense has tried to show the jury a different Raven Abaroa.

He's maintained his innocence since his wife's stabbing death in their home on Durham's Ferrand Drive in 2005, claiming he was at a soccer game the night of the murder.

In the second day of defense testimony, Raven Abaroa's attorneys emphasized how police handled the case, and how someone else could've committed the crime.

Jeff McCurdy, who used to attend church with Raven Abaroa, painted a portrait of a grieving husband, not a calculated killer.

"He was upset, crying. He was distraught," said McCurdy. "I think I used the word he seemed hysterical at times. He was rolling around on the floor about what had happened."

The defense also emphasized various crimes that had occurred in the area around the time of the murder in an attempt to show jurors that the real killer is still out there.

Tuesday, 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.

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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