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Brad Cooper asks for stay in upcoming murder trial

Posted February 17, 2011

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— Defense attorneys for a Cary man accused of killing his wife in 2008 have bypassed a Superior Court judge’s rulings and gone to the North Carolina Court of Appeals with a motion to stay his upcoming murder trial.

Brad Cooper’s attorneys filed an emergency petition for writ of certiorari on Wednesday, claiming that Judge Paul Gessner improperly ruled against them during a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 4 and therefore denying them access to evidence they are entitled to.

Jury selection in the high-profile case is slated to begin Feb. 28.

“It is clear that the defense in this case has not received all the discovery to which it is entitled,” the motion states. “Unless this court intervenes, Mr. Cooper will go to trial … with counsel who will be ineffective in spite of their best efforts to vindicate Mr. Cooper’s right to make a defense to the charge, which he denies, that he murdered his wife.”

Cooper told investigators that his wife, Nancy Cooper, went jogging on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned home. Her body was found two days later about 3 miles from the couple’s home. An autopsy determined that she had likely been strangled.

"We're hoping for a favorable ruling," Cooper's defense attorney, Howard Kurtz, said Thursday. "It would be inappropriate for me to comment beyond that, at this point."

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said his office is aware of the motion but supports Gessner’s rulings.

“This is a little unusual for us to have this issue pre-trial in a criminal case,” he said. “We think the (appellate) court will support Judge Gessner’s rulings or refuse to hear the case.”

It’s unclear how Wednesday’s filing could affect Cooper’s trial date.

Brad Cooper Cooper asks for stay in upcoming trial

Hart Miles, a Raleigh attorney not affiliated with the case, says the defense team’s petition is a rare and interesting tactical move that could delay the trial for months or even up to a year.

“It's a pretty drastic measure for the defense attorney to take on the brink of trial,” he said.

“Judge Gessner has a very good reputation. He listens to both sides. He's always trying to make the right decision,” Miles added. “It is going to be interesting to see how the appeals court deals with it.”


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  • southraleigh Feb 18, 2011

    It doesn't matter what evidence the custody judge saw or didn't see. As I remember it Cooper didn't really contest custody to the grandparents. He knew he was going to jail and he didn't even have the money to hire a legal team on his own.

    What else could he have done?

  • Fredrick Bimmell Feb 17, 2011

    Don't pay any attention to Wildcat .... she is just this sites resident "know it all" but proves to be more clueless with each and every post

  • grayboomerang Feb 17, 2011

    Wildcat..so you are praying for things to go in his favor.....so if he's guilty, you are praying for him to walk???


  • injameswetrust2003 Feb 17, 2011

    Guilty. The custody judge MUST have seen the evidence against him or he/she would not have awarded full custody to the grandparents.

  • FatCat Feb 17, 2011

    This case is destined to end up on DateLine or one of those shows. I believe this case is still wide open and can swing either way. I wouldn't trust the prosecutors as far as I could throw them if I were Brad either and feel there's a real good chance he COULD be innocent. But I - or none of you - know that at this point because none of us have ALL the evidence, nor do his attorneys.

  • chauncey7381 Feb 17, 2011

    "In NC it seems that too often the prosecutors try to ignore or marginalize evidence that might prove somebody's innocence and focus on anything that would weigh circumstances towards a conviction." -- southraleigh

    This too! Nancy Cooper was seeing someone on the sly. This is an interesting article that never appeared on WRAL.


    Cooper's attorney wants the details surrounding police interviews that he claims will prove infidelity in the Cooper's troubled marriage wasn't one-sided.

    "The very first phone call when Mrs. Cooper gets an STD test back is to [name's] number, and she wasn't sexually active with Mr. Cooper for years, indicating that she was sexual active," Cooper's attorney said.

    Defense lawyers also claim the new evidence proves other people had a reason to kill Nancy Cooper.

    "The morning Nancy Cooper ends up missing, [name] leaves his girlfriend's house and is unaccounted for as far as we can tell anywhere

  • snowl Feb 17, 2011

    Whatever, he is in jail... it really does not matter how long he delays his trial.

  • jurydoc Feb 17, 2011

    southraleigh, yes the prosecution is required to turn over ALL evidence they discover while investigating the case. It used to not be that way. They were only required to turn over "potentially exculpatory evidence." That means evidence that might speak to the innocence of the defendant. However, it seems prosecutors weren't very good at identifying "potentially exculpatory evidence" so the law was changed to require everything be turned over.

  • Alexia.1 Feb 17, 2011

    "In NC it seems that too often the prosecutors try to ignore or marginalize evidence that might prove somebody's innocence and focus on anything that would weigh circumstances towards a conviction." -- southraleigh

    You might be right. There was this story:

    The lady said she saw his wife jogging that morning as Brad Cooper described, but apparently the witness was ignored by the police. She took the initiative to go to the defense attorneys herself to tell them what she saw that morning. So, it appears there may have been an effort to close the book on this case before all of the facts are known, shove evidence under a rug, etc.

    Also, after he was indicted and arrested, the police got warrants to search for evidence:

    Did they not find what they needed the first time? Perhaps this is normal, but seems odd to me. Anyway, He's been in jail now over 2 years. No speedy trial here.

  • chauncey7381 Feb 17, 2011

    Why cant Colon, Cummings and Cary---turn over all the evidence? Why does this continue to be an issue?

    Good ole boy network in progress?