Awaiting new trial, Brad Cooper makes brief court appearance
Posted January 30, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — 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."