New trial date set in Raven Abaroa murder case


As ABC11 first reported Wednesday, the Durham district attorney's office offered 33-year-old Abaroa a plea deal after a jury said last Friday it could not reach a verdict in his murder trial and the judge declared a mistrial.

According to ABC11 sources, it was an offer of decades in prison versus a life sentence should he be convicted after a second trial.

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

Prosecutors went on the record in court Thursday with details about the plea deal after talks broke down in the last few days.

Both sides agreed on the new trial date of January 13, 2014.

According to the Adminstrative Office of the Court's estimate of daily court costs, Raven Abaroa's first trial cost North Carolina taxpayers $211,344, and that total does not include all costs. That number is for 34 days of Superior Court costs starting with jury selection and ending with the mistrial. The daily cost of Superior Court is $6,216.

Abaroa appeared in court Thursday in an orange prison jumpsuit with a newly shaved head, 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." 

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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