Nancy Cooper

Witness recalls tension in Cooper marriage

Posted March 11, 2011

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— Testimony continued Friday in the trial of Brad Cooper with a friend of his wife saying she saw the couple arguing the night before her death.

Brad Cooper, 37, is on trial for first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, strangling death of his wife, Nancy Cooper, whose body was found two days later in a drainage ditch three miles from the couple's Cary home.

He claims she went jogging that morning and never returned home.

Longtime friend Diana Duncan testified Friday that Nancy Cooper was angry with her husband the day before her death and at Duncan's barbecue that evening, told her that she was having an "I hate Brad day."

Nancy Cooper had told her that she and Brad Cooper had been fighting that day over money that Nancy Cooper had made from painting a room in the house of friend Jessica Adam.

"She was kind of in a state, but she was still talking to people and putting on a good party face," Duncan testified.

When Brad Cooper arrived at the party about an hour later, Nancy Cooper was visibly upset, and at one point, Duncan testified, had a confrontation with her husband.

"It was startling to me because I had never seen them fight publicly," Duncan said.

"She was angry," she continued. "I remember she was sort of pointing at him ... just very angry body language."

In opening statements, both prosecutors and defense attorneys said that the Coopers, both Canadian citizens, were going through a divorce and that Nancy Cooper was preparing to move back to Canada.

Diana Duncan views Nancy Cooper's dress Excerpt: Diana Duncan views Nancy Cooper's dress

Duncan testified that she had planned a going away party for April 19, 2008, "The Saddest Party Ever," but that Nancy Cooper called her the night before, upset, saying the party had to be canceled because she wasn't leaving.

Although Nancy Cooper's plans to leave changed, her plans to divorce her husband didn't, Duncan said.

"It seemed like every week, there was some new wrinkle or some new idea," she said.

The couple then talked about other plans to keep Nancy Cooper local, including buying a townhouse and pursuing Brad Cooper's employer, Cisco Systems, to help his wife get a work visa.

Duncan testified that Nancy Cooper told her that she had also been keeping a notebook and important documents, including her passport and those of her children, locked in her car and hiding her keys.

"She was keeping them from Brad. These were things she did not want him to see," Duncan said. "She felt very nervous and scared that he was going to come and get those things from her."

Prosecutors say Brad Cooper eventually got the documents from Nancy Cooper's SUV, to prevent her from leaving the U.S. with their two daughters.

Duncan also testified that on July 12, 2008, Brad Cooper asked her to help him search for a black dress that he said his wife had been wearing so that police could use it to assist in their search.

Unable to recall the dress Nancy Cooper was wearing, Duncan said they searched the house but were unable to find it.

After talking with friends later, she said, she remembered Nancy Cooper was wearing a teal dress with a black pattern. While watching the Coopers' daughters on July 15, 2008, she said, she found it hanging over a dining room chair.

"My mind was pretty committed to it being black," she said of the search. "I looked at it and said, 'Oh, that's what she was wearing.'"

"My ability to remember what she was wearing that night had been compromised," Duncan continued. "It's like the memory had been replaced. I felt that Brad did it on purpose by coming over and asking to help me find the black dress she was wearing."

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  • dlb800 Mar 14, 2011

    "Objective Scientist",

    His salary MAY have been $135K, but there is other compensation that someone could get. I have a guess at what his grade level was, and based on that, and his performance, he could have received a decent bonus, and there is also stock options (which aren't near as lucrative as they once were). He could have made significantly more than his "salary".

    Also keep in mind, that's a family of 4, but it's only 2 adults. The children themselves don't spend money, the parents spend the money on them, so they control the costs of the children.

  • are you kidding me Mar 11, 2011

    wral gives us a chance to provide input, but wral does not perform journalistic duties anymore. reporting on prosecution side and defense response is shoddy. but what is new, wral at its best...jeez

  • Objective Scientist Mar 11, 2011

    Another item of "note"... Brad Cooper's annual salary has been reported in other articles as $135,000 and some posts have referred to that as a "VERY" good salary. Can't argue with that... it is, especially in NC. However, considering where they lived, the house, the cars, the other things they had and did... and this was a family of FOUR. $135,000... "good" as it may be, could NOT support that lifestyle. Only increasing DEBT along with the 135K could do that!

  • chauncey7381 Mar 11, 2011

    Objective Scientist....I concur with your statements.

  • are you kidding me Mar 11, 2011

    release the hounds, cary pd, or keystone cops, need to find the perpetrator of this crime, because the man on trial did not do this. looks to me that he did the best he could with what he had for a wife and his girls. his parents listened too much to that cary clan...how many other men are dealing with their wives performing like that. and the da wasting court time to prosecute this before they had evidence, da needs to be voted out. wake county deserves better

  • eccgc Mar 11, 2011

    Don't know Diana D. but assume she is very likely as described above. However, thus far it appears that she was considered a "confidant" by Nancy C. and likely heard 100% of Nancy's "side of the story" and 100% of Nancy's "perception" of Brad and their circumstances. It appears very unlikely she had/has Brad's "perspective" of the Cooper's relationship and circumstances. From my viewpoint, Diana C. is likely a biased witness, even with good intentions at heart. Diana had the opportunity to make some "independent observations", but she seems to know much of what she knows from accounts given to her by Nancy. I'd have a hard time finding Brad guilty unless there is more to come than Diana's testimony.

    Please remember the trial has just begun and is expected to last for weeks! Many more witness and evidence to come!

  • chauncey7381 Mar 11, 2011

    +++Diana Duncan is a wonderful person,reliable witness and knows what she's talking about. She's very truthful and really cared for Nancy and her family, including Brad. Give her a break -- she only wanted the best for Nancy and her family.

    I don't doubt this at all. It's just she and some of Nancys friends are biased in repeating Nancy's emotional distraught in the marriage which appears to be exaggerated to some extent. Divorce is ugly. Out of all the friends Nancy complained and cried to, I don't think any of them had the true perspective, not even Nancy's parents.

  • lroberdel Mar 11, 2011

    I feel sorry for Diana Duncan. I found her to be believable, upset and truthful. She had pleasant things to say about Brad and some not so pleasant things to say about Nancy. She had to testify about her friend's murder in court and on camera. I thought she was laughing out of nervousness. Did anybody notice she also cried during some of her testimony?

    And then she gets torn to shreds on the internet. Nice.

  • Objective Scientist Mar 11, 2011

    "Diana Duncan is a wonderful person,reliable witness and knows what she's talking about. She's very truthful and really cared for Nancy and her family, including Brad. Give her a break -- she only wanted the best for Nancy and her family." - eccgc

    Don't know Diana D. but assume she is very likely as described above. However, thus far it appears that she was considered a "confidant" by Nancy C. and likely heard 100% of Nancy's "side of the story" and 100% of Nancy's "perception" of Brad and their circumstances. It appears very unlikely she had/has Brad's "perspective" of the Cooper's relationship and circumstances. From my viewpoint, Diana C. is likely a biased witness, even with good intentions at heart. Diana had the opportunity to make some "independent observations", but she seems to know much of what she knows from accounts given to her by Nancy. I'd have a hard time finding Brad guilty unless there is more to come than Diana's testimony.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 11, 2011

    Issues With Jane Velez-Mitchell on HLN just featured the trial, so he must be guilty. I guess Nancy Grace will follow up in a few minutes.

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