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Judge delays trial in slaying of Nancy Cooper

Posted September 10, 2010
Updated September 11, 2010

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— The trial for a Cary man charged with murder in his wife's death more than two years ago has been postponed until at least February 2011.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner said Friday that more time was needed for discovery – the sharing of evidence between the prosecution and defense – before Brad Cooper goes on trial in the July 2008 death of Nancy Cooper, a 34-year-old mother of two.

Brad Cooper Judge delays Cooper trial

Nancy Cooper's parents, when told of the delay, agreed with the judge's decision.

"We understand the need to proceed with caution," her father Gary Rentz said. "All these matters need to be dealt with before the trial. The delay is just part of that process."

Gessner also said that he would take some more time before ruling on whether to move the trial, which was originally set for Oct. 25, outside of Wake County.

Brad Cooper told investigators that his wife went jogging on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned home. A man walking his dog two days later found her body in an undeveloped subdivision less than 3 miles from the Coopers’ Lochmere home. An autopsy determined that she had likely been strangled.

Defense attorney Robert Trenkle contended that local news reports could keep him from finding an unbiased jury in Wake County.

"There is a reasonable likelihood that the massive amount of publicity will form preconceived motions in jurors' minds," he said.

Trenkle cited dozens of published articles, along with court documents and videos of news conferences and witness depositions posted online. He said that coverage of the custody case waged by Nancy Cooper's family for the couple's two daughters included statements from her family and friends that were detrimental to Brad Cooper.

"She has been repeatedly characterized as a victim of domestic violence," Trenkle said.

Attorneys argued that the online news coverage increases the length of time that potential jurors can review reports about the case.

"There are still articles being generated, and they are still generating the same prejudicial information," Trenkle said.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings argued that the defense attorneys must also prove that potential jurors have become biased against the defendant.

"The defendant has the burden ... to show that the exposure of the jurors to the media results in an unfair trial," Cummings said. "The mere exposure doesn't man the defendant won't be able to get a fair and impartial jury."

Trenkle pointed to nearly 8,000 viewer comments posted on WRAL.com articles about the case, but prosecutors argued that the comments were part of a back-and-forth dialogue with different points of view.

"There needs to be some evidence that not only is the public aware of it, but that it has some prejudicial effect," Cummings said.

Defense attorneys also argued that Wake County and Cary, in particular, have lower crime rates than similar-sized urban areas, so Nancy Cooper's death has attracted more attention normal.

The judge questioned a Web site posted by Brad Cooper's lawyers before his arrest that contained information about the case. Defense attorneys said that the Web site was taken down in December 2008 and that they would provide the judge with records of it.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Lickad Sep 10, 2010

    Never cross a scorned man; however, I really doubt that he can be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • Eduardo1 Sep 10, 2010

    This is INSANSE either there is enough evidence or not. Lets get it going.
    Move it to Durham or some other County, cause from all of the postings he is guilty without a trial
    sounds like the OX-BOW incident.
    Lets get the hanging over with NOW, we have plenty of time to try him later
    pwilliamson53..he has peers anywhere in this country

  • Eduardo1 Sep 10, 2010

    HOUNDE.....you are right, he looks many years older, and her photo makes her look HOT!

  • houndie Sep 10, 2010

    Man, he's aged!

  • itsmyownopinion Sep 10, 2010

    Update on article: Nancy Cooper's parents, when told of the delay, agreed with the judge's decision.

    "We understand the need to proceed with caution," her father Gary Rentz said. "All these matters need to be dealt with before the trial. The delay is just part of that process."

    Sooooooooooo, get a grip posters, and let due process take its course. If Nancy's family can wait, surely you can too.

  • scfair Sep 10, 2010

    I would love to be on that jury!

  • anti-Hans Sep 10, 2010

    This is one I would love to serve on the jury - and I would with an open mind. An open mind is all I am asking for on this forum. It seems way too many people have already convicted him. If the evidence supports it, I am first in line to put this guy where he belongs.

  • OpenM1nd Sep 10, 2010

    Haven't they already had enough time? What ever happened to the idea of a fair and speedy trial? The family still mourns and awaits justice.

  • jscott13 Sep 10, 2010

    No Rev RB, the grandparents asked to have them well before the arrest and he refused. They then hired an attorney and she deposed him and he lost the kids. The arrest came later. In fact, some of his statements in the custody hearing were incriminating and it looked to me like he didn't even realize it.
    anti-Mako, his actions were incriminating. All of this will come out in trial, I am sure. He will not get off although they may grant the change of venue because apparently his attorney is using our exchanges as evidence that he can't get a fair trial here.

  • diana123 Sep 10, 2010

    bet he wished to just do the divorce.