Christina Araujo testifies in the trial of Zachary Abell. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Araujo to be sentenced Friday for murder

More than six years after a North Miami woman was beaten to death in a Eastpoint motel, and discarded on the side of the road, the second of her two killers is about to learn her fate.

Christina Araujo, 44, of Palm Beach, is asking that due to her cooperation with prosecutors, and to the violence she alleges she suffered at the hands of co-defendant Zachary Abell, 36, of North Miami Beach, that she be handed fewer years than the sentencing guidelines call for.

In April, Circuit Judge Frank Allman handed down a life sentence to Abell, for the crime of bludgeoning to death 31-year-old Aileen Seiden.

One year ago, Araujo pleaded guilty to a similar charge of second-degree murder for having taken part in the beating and for assisting Abell in dumping the body at a cul-de-sac just east of the high school before the two drove back to South Florida, where they were later apprehended and extradited back to Franklin County.

She testified against Abell at his trial and on Friday will be sentenced by Allman’s predecessor Circuit Judge Jonathan Sjostrom, who was on the bench in Apalachicola when he accepted Araujo’s plea deal.

“The evidence will show Araujo acted under extreme duress or under the domination of another person, the co-defendant Zachary Abell,” wrote Araujo’s lawyer Scott Richardson, of West Palm Beach. “The acts to which (Araujo) pled guilty were committed in an unsophisticated manner, and that this was an isolated incident for which the defendant has shown remorse.”

By unsophisticated manner, Araujo’s lawyer is contending that the murder was not the result of planning, but was a “sudden act of violence” by Abell, with which Araujo had “no significant participation.”

Richardson’s motion alleges Abell “emotionally, psychologically and physically threatened and abused” Araujo, and this was constant when he abused alcohol. The motion goes on to say that when the defendants disposed of Seiden’s body, “Araujo was fearful that Abell would injure or kill her and thus she followed his instructions.”

Richardson is asking Sjostrom that due to these mitigating circumstances, he depart downward from what the scoresheet determines is the lowest permissible sentence of 247 months, or a little more than 20.5 years.

He concludes by writing that not only does “a preponderance of the evidence” establish grounds for a downward departure, such a lesser sentence is warranted due to Araujo’s lack of criminal history, “the support her family has shown throughout the case, her acceptance of responsibility, her courage in facing, in open court, her long-time abuser, and her truthful testimony as as a cooperating witness against the co-defendant, which testimony was instrumental in securing the guilty verdicts rendered by the jury.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor


  1. The truth is just the opposite of this story! She is very violent, I have witnessed the anger and rage she displays during one of her episodes! Zachary Abell has been a victim of hers for over 10 years! He has ran from her several times. I have seen him with black eyes, scratches and bruises, he will not fight back! She tracked them down and found them in Texas and carried out her plan to get rid of Aillen! And her crimes and criminal past has been covered up and disappeared because of her DADDY! Christina hit and killed a man and left him there, daddy cleaned up after her! Any time she had confrontation with anyone or about anything, the first thing out of her mouth was “Do you know who my dad is?” Zachary Abell lived in fear of her dad!! And she was the master manipulate, very dominant and controlling, on top of being evil! She is manipulating the court right now!! Poor Christina! Zachary being in jail is the only way to rid himself of her, and kept him safe. The truth will come out! I know one thing for sure, DADDY can’t save her and cover anything on judgement day! GOD KNOWS ALL!!

    1. Vicki, Id loke to share with you some photos of the memorial I created for Aileen and maintained for the better part of 6 years.
      I never met Aileen, but her death was so brutal, and I was shocked to see such violence right here in Franklin County. It touched my heart, and I couldn’t imagine her loved ones being so far away that many probably made it to Eastpoint. In case they did, I made that memorial so they would know Aileen was by no means forgotten here in The Forgotten Coast. Others kindly pitched in over the years donating flowers, landscaping, solar lighting and more. If you look at the most recent pic, you’ll see Sunflowers sprouting. That was for Aileen.
      Sorry for your pain, Vicki.

      I am eager to hear the sentencing results.

      1. Every one should be up in arms and saying something about this, she did plead guilty to brutally beating and killing the girl! SHE GOT 25 YEARS! WHAT A DISGRACE, SHAME ON THE FRANKLIN COUNTY JUDGE!!

        1. I don’t know about that Frank…The guideline was 20 and he gave her 25. Yes, with what she did it should have been a life sentence. If Zach hadn’t taken the charge for her when she was selling steroids, she woulda scored higher…Zach thought they were gonna let her go home, so it isn’t all that bad…I just hope she gets some help while she is in there.
          This judge did a good job in my mind. The other one with Zach directed the verdict like an orchestra conductor… totally wasn’t fair for the poor guy.

  2. David, why don’t you have her sentence all over your paper and internet like you did with him? In my opinion you and other reporters have given her special attention!! Maybe because you have been told to focus more on Abell, and don’t put to much out about her because of her father and other family members being in law enforcement? And please enlighten me, she claims that she was abused by him for years and was in fear of him? And you’re telling me her family never saw signs of abuse in a 10 year span,? My goodness her father is one of the highest paid officials in the palm beach sheriff’s office! She could have went to daddy at anytime and had him arrested! And this is the first time in this whole mess that I’ve heard about him abusing her repeatedly over years! I have heard about her getting physical and fighting with Ms. Seiden as if it was a part of their relationship and she enjoyed it. All she got people is 25 YEARS!! With credit and gain time she will be home in 10 years or less!! She plead guilty because she is!! Looks like this was a big set up, and the law apparently does have long arms! Her father’s arms reached all the way to Franklin County! So what did you get to keep her out of the news as much as possible and put a lot of focus on Abell every chance you got? This should have been a mistral. Looks like bribery and corruption to me!

    1. Very good points!! Law Enforcement are specifically trained to detect and deal with abuse. Mental and physical and she claims that he abused her repeatedly for years? I’m telling you it didn’t happen! She is a sycopath! She is a lier and manipulator! And yes David, why isn’t her sentence available to the public? Aren’t you the reporter that has covered this case from the beginning?

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