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Judge denies motion to dismiss Cooper custody case

Posted October 13, 2008
Updated October 14, 2008

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— A Wake County District Court judge denied a motion Monday to dismiss a temporary custody case involving the two young daughters of Brad Cooper and his slain wife – meaning she could decide as early as Thursday if they will stay in the care of their mother's family.

Cooper's attorney, Lynn Prather, argued there was no evidence to support allegations by Nancy Cooper's parents, Garry and Donna Rentz, that her client had been emotionally abusive to and financially controlling of his wife in the months before she was killed.

A man walking his dog found Nancy Cooper strangled in an undeveloped subdivision three miles from her Cary home on July 14, two days after a friend reported her missing. Brad Cooper told police his wife went jogging on July 12 and never returned.

Steve Mansbury, an attorney for Nancy Cooper's family, said Monday that the defendant's motion to dismiss was "frivolous."

"It's clear they know what this case is about," Mansbury said. "We are going to try and prove that Brad Cooper was involved in the murder of Nancy Cooper."

Cary police have not named any suspects in Nancy Cooper's death, and Brad Cooper has denied being involved. According to search warrants in the case, however, he has been a focus of investigators' interest.

Judge Debra Sasser's ruling came following Cooper's attorneys on Friday subpoenaing Cary police to turn over to them by 10 a.m. Tuesday all evidence relating to the murder investigation, including notes, personal property, physical evidence, computers and videos.

Town of Cary spokeswoman Susan Moran said Monday evening that the police department was consulting with legal counsel on how to proceed.

“In situations like this, where we receive requests for information, it’s our practice to refer such requests to our attorneys and to look to them for direction on how and when to respond,” she said.

Prather argued Monday that the Rentzes' assertion that her client was involved in his wife's death is based on "hearsay and belief," but Sasser said the allegations are enough of a concern for the children's wellbeing for the custody case to proceed.

"I have to deem enough facts in the allegation as truth," she said. "It doesn't matter if they can prove it or not, at this point."

Among other allegations by the Rentzes, as well as Nancy Cooper's sister, Krista Lister, were that Brad Cooper had an extramarital affair and that he also tried to commit suicide as a teenager and had threatened suicide earlier this year.

Prather, again, argued there is not enough evidence to substantiate the suicide claims and that Cooper's admitted infidelity "has no bearing on the fitness of a parent."

Brad Cooper has stated in affidavits that the couple had been trying to work on their marriage, strained by the affair on his part and financial problems caused by his wife's excessive spending.

Meanwhile Monday, on what would have been the Coopers' eighth wedding anniversary, attorneys for the family filed an affidavit from a woman who says she was once engaged to Brad Cooper.

Jennifer Windsor Ball says in the document, dated Oct. 12, that Cooper was emotionally abusive and mentally cruel to her while they lived together in a Calgary, Alberta, apartment from September 1997 to December 1998.

Ball, who now lives in Hawaii, claims that Cooper "frequently berated" her about her appearance and made derogatory comments about her to other people.

She also says she was fearful for her physical safety at the end of their relationship and that after they broke up, Brad Cooper reportedly began "secretly accessing" her apartment, even after his name had been removed from the lease and he had moved into another apartment in the same building.

"Brad's behavior was creepy, and I was so disturbed by it that I broke my lease agreement and moved away so that I would not have to remain in the same building with him," Ball stated.

Ball said she contacted the Rentzes' attorney, Alice Stubbs, on Saturday after she learned of Brad Cooper's Oct. 2 deposition video for the custody case, in which he talks about her. She stated she believes he intentionally gave Stubbs an incorrect last name – although she does not say why.

Last week, Cary police Det. George Daniels cast doubts on Cooper's statements, stating in an affidavit that those he made to police in the early days of the murder case differed from his testimony in that deposition.

Cooper's attorney, Howard Kurtz, said Monday that it is "highly unlikely" that anyone would be able to describe events in exactly the same way as they did three months earlier, but the important facts surrounding Nancy Cooper's death remain the same.

Daniels also stated Cooper had been uncooperative with police, but Kurtz cited a scheduling conflict. He said police asked Cooper to go to the police station at the same time depositions in the custody case were scheduled.

Kurtz said he has told investigators his client cannot meet with them until after the custody hearing, "which is of high priority to Brad."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • keeptraveling Oct 14, 2008

    Tarheels... you keep referring to the Duke case on this forum. The two are completely separate, different, and in no way related. Perhaps your bitterness towards Nifong might be directed elsewhere.

  • wonderif Oct 14, 2008

    what's the matter carolinagirl19....rev's comments hitting you too close to home. If you don't like the comments don't read them! Golo is a place for EVERYONE to express their opinion-not just those that suit you. Isn't that the nature of a blog?????

  • not today2008 Oct 14, 2008

    may have laid in wait for her after watching her routine for several days or weeks. Either way, BC either needs to be charged or the investigation moved to look at another suspect or scenario of what happened.

  • Scubagirl Oct 14, 2008

    "Daniels also stated Cooper had been uncooperative with police, but Kurtz cited a scheduling conflict. He said police asked Cooper to go to the police station at the same time depositions in the custody case were scheduled."

    IF Brad is innocent I would think he would do ANYTHING possible to cooperate, including adjusting his schedule. I'm sure the Cary PD would have agreed for him to come at a different hour.

  • yellow_hat Oct 13, 2008

    Personally, I think he deserves to have his kids. There is no evidence his is in any way a danger to them. Also - if this judge awards custody to her family - then based on her prior statements, the logical conclusion is that he has been "judged" gulity for a crime he has never been charged with. That IMO makes it impossible for him to ever receive a fair trail if he is ever charged. She needs to return his children until, or if, he is charged.

  • carolinagirl19 Oct 13, 2008

    rev rb..perhaps you need to have your own forum since you comment on every story that wral has and you seem to know more than everyone else and you have something to say about almost every post that you disagree with..no one can say anything without you putting in your 2 cents. do you have access to their financial records? just curious.

  • pinetops Oct 13, 2008


  • pinetops Oct 13, 2008

    Please, please read the articles before you comment! The attorneys for Nancy's parents did not contact his ex-girlfriend. A friend of the ex-girlfriend saw the video where Brad mentioned her and the friend of ex-girlfriend contacted her and then she contacted the attorney. Brad started all of this by mentioning her name!! She called him creepy after she took him off the lease and then some neighbors told her that he was secretly going into her apartment when she wasn't there. She broke it off...and he moved into another apartment on another floor in the same apartment building. Now who is the ceepy one...one guess...Brad Cooper!!! And he is guilty, guilty, guilty!!!

  • Adelinthe Oct 13, 2008

    keeptraveling - "So it doesn't bother me to state that I think he's a murderer, and I don't think that's rude because I feel he committed a much greater crime."


    So then a judge and jury isn't needed in this case because he's already been crucified by those who THINK he did it.

    Shameful gossip and suppositions in this great country where one is guaranteed innocence until they are proven guilty.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB

  • Adelinthe Oct 13, 2008

    keeptraveling - "NC was not having an affair, or Brad would have proclaimed it to the world..."

    He actually seems to be trying to soften NC's faults, perhaps to protect the memory of his dead wife or their children who will one day have the ability to read all of the things published about this case, should they choose to.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB