Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper jury sees crime scene images

Posted March 21, 2011

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— Testimony continued Monday in the trial of a Cary man accused of killing his wife, with jurors viewing video and photos of the site where her body was recovered nearly three years ago.

Brad Cooper, 37, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of his wife, Nancy Cooper, 34. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Christopher Hill Full video: Brad Cooper murder trial (Day 8)

Nancy Cooper's body was found July 14, 2008, in a drainage ditch at a construction site in a neighborhood off Fielding Drive and Holly Springs Road, about 3 miles from the couple's home in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood..

Crime scene investigator Christopher Hill, a senior agent with the City-County Bureau of Identification, testified that he found Nancy Cooper face down in the ditch with her legs lying up along the bank.

She was wearing only a multi-colored sports bra and a set of earrings – one of which fell off and was lost while her body was being moved – he said.

Hill testified that he saw two pieces of electrical wire and a cigarette butt near her body, as well as footprints and tire tracks. Muddy conditions made it difficult, however, to create impressions of the tire tracks, and neither measurements nor impressions of the footprints were taken, he said, because they had been distorted by the mud.

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During cross-examination, Hill said the interior wheel base of the tires measured 47 inches, smaller than wheel base of Brad Cooper's BMW.

The wires, Hill continued, were similar to those on a nearby light pole, and because of the fading, he thought they had probably been sitting outside for a while.

"We didn't feel like it was probably related," he said, adding that they collected the wires to be "on the safe side."

Jurors also heard from several Cary police personnel involved in a search for Nancy Cooper in the days after a friend reported her missing.

Cary Police Patrol Sgt. Brian Smith testified that, on the afternoon of July 14, 2008, before Nancy Cooper's body was recovered, he approached Brad Cooper about doing an interview with detectives at the police station because of the media presence outside his home.

"He told me he would be willing to meet at his house but not at the police station because he hadn't been charged with anything at the time," Smith said.

Instead, detectives decided to interview Brad Cooper at the Java Jive coffee shop on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, which was serving at the time as the base in the search for Nancy Cooper.

Brad Cooper has said his wife went jogging at 7 a.m. on the morning of her death and never returned. But prosecutors contend that he killed his wife inside their home when she returned home from a neighborhood party.

Defense attorneys have said that Cary police ignored evidence, including the tire marks and footprints, that could have proved someone else was responsible for Nancy Cooper's death.

The state has said the Coopers had been planning to separate and that Brad Cooper had cut his wife off financially because she had wanted to return to her native Canada with the couple's children.

Defense attorneys have said the couple was struggling financially and that their client gave his wife a weekly allowance of $300 to keep the family from financial ruin.

On Friday, Dr. John Butts, the retired chief medical examiner for North Carolina, testified that Nancy Cooper had likely died from asphyxiation by strangulation.

Her body was decomposed and had been infested with insects, he said, making it difficult to determine if there was any minor trauma, such as bruising or markings.

But there were three marks on the front of her neck that could not have been caused by insects, he said.

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  • Objective Scientist Mar 23, 2011

    "Help a dummy here - how could it NOT go to a jury? Are you saying the judge could step in and say, "I'm sorry, there's not enough evidence?" by previous poster.

    Unless things have recently changed, the answer is YES. The Judge could step in and say essentially what you say. It is called a "Directed Verdict" if I'm not mistaken. When all is said and done, both prosecutor and defense "rest their case"... the Judge can review the evidence presented and conclude that the evidence, or lack there of, is so "overwhelmingly" in favor of one side or the other that he does not put the decision before the jury. The way this trial is going... maybe that is a possibility, although I am not anticipating it in a murder trial.

  • bradcooperisinnocent Mar 22, 2011

    sclarkguy,

    Help a dummy here - how could it NOT go to a jury? Are you saying the judge could step in and say, "I'm sorry, there's not enough evidence?" It appears to me that the judge is doing EVERYTHING he possibly can to help this horribly weak prosecution, so I don't know that he'd do that.

  • sclarkguy Mar 22, 2011

    It's surprising to me that the judge has allowed the prosecution to present opinions and innuendo as evidence. Unless they have something more, I'd be surprised if this even goes to the jury.

  • boatbuilder96 Mar 21, 2011

    Putting Nancy's mother on the stand looked like a desparate move to me...(weak) circumstantial evidence followed by emotional tearful testimony by the mother is what you do when you don't have any evidence.
    BTW, WHERE is Colon Willoughby? If he thinks his fingerprints aren't all over this travesty he is wrong. There should be consequences for the DA's office when things like this occur. Everybody talks about the Grand Jury being able to indict at will...maybe those proceedings should be recorded so that a judicial oversight panel could go back and see if the DA acted wrecklessly. I bet had a camera been rolling in the GJ room, BC would not be in jail.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 21, 2011

    Where is the evidence other than the gossip, innuendo, and opinions that the prosecutions has presented as evidence.

  • juju Mar 21, 2011

    anastasia... "The prosecution has to provide answers to these pieces of evidence otherwise the defense, during closing arguments, can say 'the person who committed this crime is the same person who's DNA *would have been found* on said items, but the prosecution didn't even bother to test them, report them, investigate them',etc., yadda yadda yadda......"

    I guess its a prosecution style thing. If it were me, I would stick to my prosecution and evidence that IS evidentiary. If the defense brings up evidence that is not related --- nail them during cross of their case, make them look like they are trying to mislead the jury. As it is, it appears the prosecution is wandering around. If I were the jury and I heard the prosecution say to the police "isn't it true that this evidence has no evidentiary value to this case" about their own evidence I would be saying to myself --- what the ____?

  • cdhrtp Mar 21, 2011

    From the article above:

    "She was wearing only a multi-colored sports bra and a set of earrings – one of which fell off and was lost while her body was being moved – he said."

    So guess the testimony was quite different than the reporting here.....

  • I dont jog Mar 21, 2011

    I served on a Wake County Grand jury for 6 months once. It was a farce. If we didn't return a true bill, the ADA would come in the room, scould us, and then make us reconsider it. All the cops came in, used the same terminology - had been coached by the same trial coach, I guess. We had sheets in front of us with all the cases we had to hear that day - nobody wanted to be there, and if we started asking too many questions of the cops, the other jurors would start to stare you down. Sooo, really they don't need a case or any evidence to get a true bill from a grand jury.

  • anastasia Mar 21, 2011

    Question: why is the prosecution taking time to introduce items that have no evidentiary value to this case? Are they trying to show the Cary PD turned over every stone? Aren't they risking confusing the jury with evidence that has nothing to do with the case?
    ----------------

    The prosecution has to provide answers to these pieces of evidence otherwise the defense, during closing arguments, can say 'the person who committed this crime is the same person who's DNA *would have been found* on said items, but the prosecution didn't even bother to test them, report them, investigate them',etc., yadda yadda yadda......

    As for the necklace, IIRC it was either found in Brad's desk or Brad produced it from his desk, sommething along those lines. Both of the earings Nancy was wearing were accounted for. One recovered by a crime scene tech. who said 'it was about to fall out of her ear and would have been lost had he not taken it', and the ME who reported other earing still in her ear.

  • dirkdiggler Mar 21, 2011

    "Wasn't able to watch today, but did I just read this right? The body had a set of earrings - and ONE was LOST while they were moving the body?!?!?!?"

    You might have read that, but it's not how the testimony was presented. They removed one of her earrings because it was falling out of her ear. They delivered it into evidence. They left the other earring in her ear, as noted by the coroner.

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