Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for April 9 in the case of a Cary man serving life in prison for killing his wife.
Brad Cooper, 39, was found guilty in May 2011 of first-degree murder in the July 2008 death of 34-year-old Nancy Cooper, whose body was found in a drainage ditch in a cul-de-sac of an undeveloped subdivision near their Cary home.
The appeal for a new trial focuses on two rulings that a Wake County Superior Court judge made regarding testimony during the trial. Investigators found evidence on a laptop computer of a Google Maps search the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared of the location where her body was later found.
Defense attorneys wanted to call two witnesses to support their claim that the computer had been hacked and that the information about the map search had been planted onto the machine. The judge ruled that neither witness could testify.
A third ruling by the judge denied defense attorneys access to FBI procedures regarding forensic computer examinations.
The North Carolina Attorney General's Office said in a brief last month that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it came to the three rulings and that any error was "harmless" because of an "overwhelming" amount of circumstantial evidence in the case.
The trial was one of the longest non-capital murder trials in Wake County history, lasting 36 days.
Witnesses testified that the Coopers, who moved to Cary from Canada, were in the process of separating and that Nancy Cooper wanted to move back to Canada with their two young children but that her husband had become controlling of the family finances and, at one point, had taken one of the children's passports to keep her from leaving with them.
Defense attorneys argued that Nancy Cooper went jogging on the morning of her death and never returned home. They claimed that Cary police's work on the case was "inept" and that investigators never pursued other leads because they were concerned that a random murder in Cary would be harmful to the town's reputation.