Transcript for Jurors Deadlocked on Verdict for Man's Murder Trial
Te Announcer: "20/20" Saturday continues, once more. John Quinones. Reporter: Trial day 34, the state of North Carolina versus raven abaroa. Behind closed doors, Alex Cromwell and his fellow jury members are hard at work. We were all pretty unanimous in that the defendant had done some fairly reprehensible things. It was just a matter of whether that was to the level of committing murder. Reporter: After three days of deliberation raven's fate is finally being decided. Janet's sister praying for justice. But the 12 jurors in courtroom 7b deliver a shocking decision. I don't think additional time will change our final outcome. Reporter: The verdict? There is none. The jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of guilty. We are a hung jury. Reporter: The judge has no choice but to declare a mistrial. We can't make you reach a verdict. Reporter: The outcome devastating. Raven on the verge on tears, upset at the prospect of another lengthy trial. And behind him, his mother crying. And the other side overcome with emotion, too. Janet's mother and sisters sobbing. Even worse, the vote was 11 to 1 in favor of guilty. A single holdout could not be swayed. She decided that it was better to let a guilty man go free than it would be to send an innocent man to prison. I disagreed with his interpretation of much of the evidence, but in the end, you know, I respected what she had concluded. A lot of times people, in general, think that there has to be this fancy forensic or DNA or fingerprints. Whereas, you know, the circumstantial evidence is not less effective than direct evidence. 11 to 1, to me, is huge. Guilty, 11 to 1 is, it speaks volumes. Reporter: Janet's family, always certain of raven's guilt, is crushed. So when you hear we're going to have to retry the case, what goes through your mind? You pretty much collapse. Dread. Definitely dread. It's going to be another long six weeks. Reporter: A new trial is set to begin in March of this year, but just days before it's about to start, raven pulls a clever legal maneuver. Do you plead guilty this morning pursuant to a plea bargain. Yes. A coward's plea. . A high profile murder case is coming to an end tonight. Reporter: In an about-face as dramatic as his appearance -- he was once a soccer stud, but now not quite the ladies' man. Raven abaroa, who always maintained his innocence, took a deal, not for murder but a lesser charge. It's called the Alford plea. It's when a defendant neither admits nor denies but accepts punishment on the crime. Reporter: Janet's family reluctantly accepted the deal because they did not want the risk of a not guilty verdict after another long trial. I believe that they did not want under any circumstance for raven abaroa to get away or escape justice. Is it justice? It's a rough shot at justice. Reporter: One by one Janet's family and friends speak out in court. This is her father. Janet missed Kaiden's first steps, missed out on Kaiden's first words. She missed out on being called mommy. Reporter: The family, hoping to persuade the judge to deliver the maximum sentence. Any time that you serve will never be enough for the pain that you have inflicted on my family and all that who loved her. The defendant will receive an active sentence of 95 to 123 months. Reporter: Just eight to ten years, the harshest punishment allowed under what Janet's family considered a very sweet deal for him. With time already served, raven could be out in less than four years. Raven abaroa is going to be released from jail. He's going to walk free. In my mind, that makes every woman out there a target. Reporter: Raven abaroa did not testify at his trial, but now finally breaks his silence to explain why he agreed to the plea deal. I would just like to state that I didn't receive a fair trial the first time. I don't think I'll receive a fair trial a second time, and the fact is I love my family very much, and I don't think it's worth risking the possibility of spending the rest of my life in prison for something I didn't do. I take this plea to ensure that doesn't happen. And that's the only reason. I didn't kill my wife. He then stood up in court and said he did not kill his wife. Then why agree to voluntary manslaughter if you didn't do it? Why not fight it? Reporter: A slap on the wrist for him, but a slap in the face for them, Janet's entire family. Uh-huh. That was like he was stabbing us right in the heart. We've had an open wound. It hasn't been healing at all. And him doing that, doesn't solve it. I'm angry for him taking her and him taking Kaiden's mom away. I wish that he would have just left. He would've just divorced her and left her alone. He didn't leave her alone, just let her go. There is evil in the world. And I think he's an evil person. I think he's done very bad, evil things. Reporter: Janet's gone. He could be out in four to six years. Correct. Reporter: Capable of doing it again? You know, you would hope not. But his record tells us different, doesn't it? Reporter: Raven's second wife, Vanessa, also finds little comfort in the deal. Were you surprised that he accepted the plea? I was shocked. But I was -- more than that, I was shocked at what the plea deal turned out to be. Reporter: He could be out in four to six years, huh? That's not justice at all. It's not justice. Reporter: Vanessa feels there's no justice because she can't shake the notion that like a bird at midnight raven will one day come tapping, tapping at another victim's chamber door. Your advice to women who come in contact with him? Please don't be drawn in. And please get away as fast, as fast as you can. Don't walk, run, before you're caught in the trap. I was lucky enough to get out. Janet was not.
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