Raven Abaroa agrees to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter

Raven Abaroa, the man accused of killing his wife Janet in Durham more than 8 years ago, pleads to voluntary manslaughter
March 12, 2014 2:16:45 PM PDT
Raven Abaroa, the man accused of killing his wife Janet in Durham more than 8 years ago, told a judge Wednesday he has agreed to plead guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge.

While accepting the plea, Abaroa continued to maintain his innocence - saying he felt he didn't get a fair trial when a jury deadlocked on a verdict last year, and he doesn't believe he'd get a fair trial in a second go around.

"I did not kill my wife," he told judge.

Abaroa said he was only agreeing to the guilty plea to avoid a possible life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder.

"I don't think it's worth spending the rest of my life in prison for something I didn't do," he said.

Abaroa entered an Alford Plea.  By legal definition, he does not admit guilt, but agrees prosecutors likely have enough evidence to get a conviction. His sentence is for 95 to 123 months in prison. Considering he's been in jail since his 2010 arrest, he'll serve between 4 to 6 more years behind bars.

At the sentencing hearing, Janet's father told the judge that she missed her first Mother's Day, seeing her son's first steps, being called mommy, and the life of her unborn child.

Her sister Erika Bakey called Janet a wonderful person.

"Why kill her? Why not get a divorce? Why not just leave her?" asked Bakey. "When you killed her, you took a part of me."

For years, Abaroa has maintained his innocence, denying he fatally stabbed 25-year-old Janet - who was pregnant - in their Durham home in April 2005.

In May 2013, a judge declared a mistrial in Abaroa's first trial when jurors couldn't reach a unanimous verdict. 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 told police 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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