Local News

NC Supreme Court won't stand in way of Brad Cooper retrial

Posted January 24, 2014

Brad Cooper during his first-degree murder trial in 2011.

— The North Carolina Supreme Court decided Friday not to hear the state's appeal of a lower court ruling granting a Cary man a new trial in the 2008 death of his wife.

The state Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 3 that Brad Cooper should get a new trial for the strangling death of Nancy Cooper after the judge erred in the 10-week murder trial by not allowing defense witnesses to testify about critical evidence that could have changed the jury's verdict.

Because the appellate court ruling was unanimous, the Supreme Court wasn't obligated to take up the case. The Attorney General's Office petitioned the court for a discretionary review, but the court denied the request without comment.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said the case "will probably be retried," but he noted that scheduling a new trial will be difficult.

"You have to commit a judge and courtroom for a long period of time," Willoughby said.

Brad Cooper, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 and is serving a life prison sentence. He is now entitled to a bond hearing, which could happen as early as next week.

He maintains that Nancy Cooper left to go jogging on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned home. Her body was found several days later in a drainage ditch in an undeveloped subdivision a few miles from their Cary home.

The state's only concrete evidence in the case was a Google Maps search of the site where her body was found.

Prosecutors contended it was made the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared, but defense attorneys argued that someone tampered with Brad Cooper's computer while Cary police searched the couple's house for evidence.

Two defense witnesses weren't allowed to give their expert opinion that someone tampered with the Google Maps files, and the appeals court said the trial judge should have allowed the testimony.

"The Google Map files recovered from the defendant's laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial," the three-judge Court of Appeals panel wrote in its ruling.

Garry Rentz, Nancy Cooper's father, said the family was prepared for the possibility that Brad Cooper might get another trial.

“The matter is for the court to decide; it is not a decision we make," Rentz said. "It is honestly beyond our control. I can understand why the decision (to uphold the appeals court decision) was made.”

Nancy Cooper's sister and brother-in-law now have custody of the Coopers' two daughters and are raising them near Vancouver, British Columbia. Rentz said the family hopes the new trial doesn't mean a new custody fight over the girls.

"We don’t want any more issues in their lives than they’ve already had," he said.


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  • dollibug Jan 27, 2014

    This will indeed be an interesting *case* to watch. Let's just see how Brad's Rights are followed. OMG I forgot though he is from Canada so perhaps the Judicial System thinks he is NOT entitled to U.S. Constitution Rights. The article states he is *entitled to a bond hearing*. Let's just see how long it will take someone to make sure he gets this. And then let's see just how long it takes for his retrial. It seems like it did NOT take those in charge to make sure he was *railroaded into a conviction* so this should be a good story to follow.

  • loveyhowell Jan 27, 2014

    Yep, the good ole boy network will not be backed by the Supreme Court this time. Colon quietly slips out the backdoor, Gessner, Zellinger, and Howard C-mings will have to fabricate more gossip to make up for the missing ducks and the tire tracks which didn't match any of the Cooper cars.

  • Inter Alios Jan 27, 2014

    I hope Gessner is not assigned to the retrial of this case. If he is, the defense should move for his recusal. He clearly demonstrated his bias time and again during the initial trial, and I have no doubt he would do everything he could during the new trial to see to it Cooper is convicted again. He is a sorry excuse for a judge and should be removed ASAP by Wake County voters.

  • kat4eagles Jan 24, 2014

    This is such good news and I am so happy for Brad, I hope he will get his daughters back as well as his freedom..
    Next up: Free Jason Young

  • Justic4All Jan 24, 2014

    statistics that show most murders are committed by people known by the victim - Or that is how the cops and DA's assemble the scant circumstantial evidence and smoke and mirrors to cast a doubt that others may be involved.

    Or in this case the state, "appellate court ruling was unanimous, the Supreme Court wasn't obligated to take up the case." PLUS, "judge erred in the 10-week murder trial by not allowing defense witnesses to testify about critical evidence that could have changed the jury's verdict.". All of this is according to the court. Just because the cops arrest someone does not mean they are guilty. Welll, in 49 other states it means they are not guilty. In NC you are unless you can prove you are innocent.

    So let the people who know it had to be him rain down what they see in their crystal ball. It just shows your lack of openness to the hard evidence and the lack of very crucial evidence, even to the point of YOU CAN'T TESTIFY! It may prove the DA incompetent!

  • 1jalapeno Jan 24, 2014

    Must have been a random act of murder that Cary is so well know for. Let's throw out all the statistics that show most murders are committed by people known by the victim. Oh, and they were such a happy couple.

  • Serendipity5 Jan 24, 2014

    A man guilty of murder will be a fugitive for the rest of his life. It doesn't matter whether he's in or out of prison.

  • KniftyKnitter Jan 24, 2014

    I have no idea if Brad Cooper is innocent or guilty, but I do know for sure that his trial was a joke. He got completely railroaded! I lean towards him being innocent with someone else in that weird neighborhood group being the actual killer. To be honest, even if I was "sure" he did it, I could not convict him on the "evidence" that was presented at his trial.

  • dollibug Jan 24, 2014

    I hope the Brad Cooper does NOT take any sort of *deal* for a crime that HE IS NOT GUILTY OF. Wake County DA is not running again for office and I am sure that another new person might NOT want to deal with another expensive trial just to be *throwing money away*. So I guess they have several options: drop the charges until they find *EVIDENCE* or waste millions of dollars again on having *no evidence* or try to make Brad take some sort of deal.
    It is funny to read some of the people here who happen to know for sure that Brad is guilty. I have to ask does anyone happen to know how they have come to this conclusion when there was *NO EVIDENCE which proved this*? It is sad when innocent people get tangled up in the *Judicial System* like this and end up being convicted on *nothing*. The judge who heard this case has no business even being on the bench. The videos of the trial shouted volumes about Wake County Judicial System. Any accused person deserves a *FAIR AND JUST TRIAL*.

  • johnnybgood Jan 24, 2014

    There was a lot of flimsy evidence presented by the prosecution. The judge continuously rebuffing the defenses' evidence should have been a red flag for the jury that something was amiss.