Nancy Cooper

Awaiting new trial, Brad Cooper makes brief court appearance

Posted January 30, 2014

— A Cary man convicted more than two years ago of killing his wife made a brief court appearance Thursday afternoon, where he was appointed a new defense attorney in the case and was ordered held without bond until a bond hearing can take place.

Last week, the North Carolina Supreme Court declined, without comment, to hear the state's appeal of a lower court's ruling that Brad Cooper get a new trial after a judge erred in the 40-year-old's 2011 murder trial for the death of Nancy Cooper.

Her body was found in an undeveloped subdivision 3 miles from the couple's Cary home in July 2008.

Brad Cooper was arrested approximately three months later, and a jury found him guilty in May 2011 after a 10-week trial.

He has maintained that his wife went jogging and never returned, but prosecutors argued he strangled her after a neighborhood party.

The state's case was mostly circumstantial with the exception of Internet files on Brad Cooper's laptop of a Google Maps search that was made the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared.

His appeal focused on the computer evidence and the presiding judge's decision not to allow defense witnesses to testify about the possibility that someone might have tampered with the computer.

It's still unclear when the case might be retried.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens put the case on the court's calendar for March to consider bond and conditions of pre-trial release.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said last week that scheduling it on the current murder trial calendar could prove difficult, considering the length of time it took to originally try the case.

Willoughby also said the original prosecutors will re-try the case.

The North Carolina Capital Defender's Office has also appointed a new public defender, James Freeman, to defend Cooper.

Howard Kurtz, who represented Cooper in his first trial, on Friday took to his law firm's website to praise the state Supreme Court's ruling.

"As criminal defense lawyers, it was excruciating to be prepared to defend our client with strong expert testimony that was unreasonably concealed from the jury," Kurtz wrote. "Our only relief comes now as we learn that Brad Cooper will be entitled to a full defense and that the jury will now be entitled to hear it."

Nancy Cooper's father in Canada said the family was already prepared for the possibility of a new trial.

"The matter is for the court to decide," Garry Rentz said. "It is not a decision we make. We will honor what the court decides. It is honestly beyond our control."


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  • Objective Scientist Jan 31, 2014

    I followed the Cooper trial closely, although I'm neither relative nor friend nor know anyone involved in the case. I either saw live or watched a recording of every minute of the trial and read all accounts of it in the media. His wife is dead, she lost her life and nothing equals that. Nevertheless... Cooper's life, short of death, has been destroyed... and I am not convinced of his guilt. I am very glad he is getting a new trial. The outcome may be the same... but he deserves - ANYONE DESERVES - a better trial than the first one. For me... to send someone to prison for life... you'd better have a "tighter" and more substantial case than the prosecution did in the first trial with more than pure circumstantial evidence to present... and the defense must be given a playing field level with that of the prosecution. I will watch the second trial... perhaps at the end I will say my vote would be guilty, but that would not have been my vote in the first trial!

  • Headlight Jan 31, 2014

    Cooper now has a public defender as attorney because he is now indigent (AKA- BROKE). He is entitled to a new trial because of the NC Appeals Court unanimous ruling that judicial errors were made in the original trial which did not allow Cooper to put on his best defense. Willoughby will not be the DA in 2015. Zellinger will probably run for that job. Roy Cooper may well run for governer.

  • Lightfoot3 Jan 30, 2014

    I have no idea if he killed her or not. I do know that the state didn’t prove it. His guilty verdict should be a wake-up call about the serious problems with our legal system.

  • loveyhowell Jan 30, 2014

    One more time. Perhaps Colon Willoughby will instruct the three prosecutors to leave out the neighborhood gossip and stick to the evidence. Doing that will save the State a tremendous amount of time on the court calendar. The Cary Police Dept never proved Brad Cooper actually did the search and they could have very easily via a Google subpoena. The Cary Police Dept was advised to do this and they for some reason did not.

  • dollibug Jan 30, 2014

    Here is just hoping that Brad Cooper's case will be a life learned lesson for the state and that before Brad's next trial and any and all future trials the state will get *all of their ducks in a row*.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 30, 2014

    Here we go again with the white van theory. You folks are insane.

  • GOPtakersSociety Jan 30, 2014

    View quoted thread

    maybe they are looking for the Cary cop who saw her jogging and the White van turn around?

  • StevenNC Jan 30, 2014

    >> "The state's case was mostly circumstantial with the exception of Internet files on Brad Cooper's laptop of a Google Maps search that was made the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared."

    I think the author of this web article has confused "circumstantial" with "weak." The Internet files are circumstantial evidence. That's because the evidence relies on an inference for its relevance. There is no direct evidence in this case. The entire case is based on circumstantial evidence (not "mostly" as the article puts it). The internet files just happen to be the most incriminating.

    If a witness saw a man standing over a body with a gun in his hand moments before hearing a gunshot, that would be circumstantial (but no less compelling) evidence that the man killed the person lying on the floor.

  • kat4eagles Jan 30, 2014

    Maybe they will offer a 2nd degree murder charge with time served, like that Raven guy?

  • jscott13 Jan 30, 2014

    I have never heard of a lawyer who either makes statements or advertises for witnesses on his web site...until this Kurtz appeared. If he so believes in Cooper then why is he not defending him again.