Plea deal possible in Raven Abaroa case

Raven Abaroa in court

June 5, 2013 3:41:30 PM PDT
A possible plea deal in the Raven Abaroa murder case appears unlikely after talks broke down in the last few days.

No sooner than the judge declared a mistrial last Friday, the Durham district attorney's office offered 33-year-old Abaroa a plea deal. According to ABC11 sources, it was an offer of decades in prison versus a life sentence should he be convicted after a second trial.

However, by Wednesday morning, tension between both sides of the high profile case showed signs they had yet to reach an agreement. Instead both sides declared in court they're ready to set a new trial date and file new court motions.

"There are several matters that need to be discussed tomorrow at the hearing Thursday at noon," said prosecutor Charlene Coggins Franks.

That includes the plea deal that may no longer be on the table. Prosecutors say they'll go on the record in court tomorrow with details.

Raven Abaroa will be there, despite his attorney's request that he be allowed to skip the hearing and remain in jail.

"He has a right not to be brought over ," said defense attorney Mani Dexter.  "The reason is because of the intense media scrutiny. Having him paraded up and down in his jail clothes and shackles is highly prejudicial for him." 

Abaroa maintains his innocence, denying he fatally stabbed his pregnant wife, 25-year-old Janet, in their Durham home in April 2005.

Prosecutors say no one else had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the crime.

Last week, jurors told Judge Orlando Hudson they were split 11-to-1 on a decision. Jurors told ABC11 it was 11 for guilty and one holdout who wanted not guilty.

The jury of seven men and five women spent about 10 hours deliberating and were sent back to the jury room two times after first reporting they were deadlocked.

Prosecutors tried to paint Raven as a controlling husband who cheated on his wife and who wanted out of the marriage because of money problems.

Abaroa has maintained he was away at a soccer game when Janet was murdered and had nothing to do with it. The defense claimed police ignored important evidence that led to someone other than Raven as a suspect.

The jury was only considering a first-degree murder charge. There were no lesser options. If Abaroa was found guilty, he would have faced a mandatory life sentence. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty.

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