Nancy Cooper

Blood found beneath Nancy Cooper's fingernails

Posted March 23, 2011

— A forensic scientist testifying for the state Wednesday in the murder trial of Brad Cooper said she found blood underneath the fingernails of his wife, Nancy Cooper, who was strangled to death more than two years ago.

But Ivy McMillan, an agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, said she was never able to obtain a DNA sample from it to determine whose blood it was.

Ivy McMillan Full video: Day 10 trial testimony

It isn't uncommon though, she said, for DNA evidence to degrade or be washed away because of environmental factors, such as heat and moisture.

Prosecutors have said Brad Cooper, 37, killed his wife inside their home during the early-morning hours of July 12, 2008, and transported her to a construction site in an undeveloped subdivision just outside Cary's town limit.

A man walking his dog found Nancy Cooper's partially clad, decomposed body face down in a drainage ditch two days later.

McMillan also testified that she was unable to obtain DNA profiles from several other pieces of evidence removed from the Coopers' home, including a pink, oval rug, a pillow case, and part of the trunk floor from the defendant's car.

There was also no evidence of semen or sperm in swab samples she tested from a sexual assault kit, but she said on cross-examination by defense attorneys that heat and an insect infestation of the body could have destroyed any evidence.

A teal dress that witnesses have said Nancy Cooper was wearing during a party the night before her death also was absent of any blood evidence, McMillan said, but she did find a "small grease-like stain" on it that wasn't bodily fluid. She couldn't say what the stain might have been.

Brad Cooper has said that his wife told him at the party that she had a stain on the dress, although several witnesses said they never saw a stain nor did she tell them about a stain.

No DNA evidence found in Cooper trial No DNA evidence obtained in Cooper trial

Defense attorneys have criticized the tactics Cary police used to solve Nancy Cooper's homicide, saying they only sought out evidence that could prove their client was guilty and ignored evidence or delayed testing items that could have proved otherwise.

One such item was a cigarette butt found near Nancy Cooper's body, they have said.

Prosecutors questioned SBI forensic DNA analyst Michelle Hannon about that cigarette butt on Wednesday. She said it too was absent of DNA but that it was crinkled and appeared to have been old.

Two other cigarette butts that were submitted for testing did test positive for an unknown DNA profile, she said. They were collected from Kildaire Farm Road in Cary from "someone who made a strange comment about a poster," Hannon said, but she didn't elaborate.

Much of Wednesday afternoon focused on testimony from a Cary police detective who seized computers from the Cooper home in the days after Nancy Cooper's body was found.

Defense attorney Howard Kurtz cross-examined detective Jason Ice for nearly an hour about methods he used to secure the computers.

In opening statements, Kurtz said forensic protocols on computer evidence were ignored and that hundreds of files on Brad Cooper's computer had been tampered with while in control of police.

At the conclusion of Wednesday's proceedings, Kurtz apologized to the court and to the prosecution team for his questioning of their ethics. Earlier, Kurtz accused the state of not informing defense attorneys of their plans to call Ice to testify.

Cross-examination of Ice is expected to resume Thursday morning.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • sabrenc Mar 25, 2011

    So the strongest "evidence" they have is motive (bad marriage) and slightly odd behavior. As well, the only evidence they have is motive (bad marriage) and odd behavior. This is the thinnest murder charge I've ever seen. Not one shred of tangible evidence against him. He may be guilty, but they haven't proven it by a long shot.

  • lmclamb2 Mar 24, 2011

    I know they have found the green dress. Have they found the white scandals or flip flops NC was wearing with the dress? I have not heard them mention them.

  • nevergo55mph Mar 24, 2011

    Oh..PLEASE very close attention to EVERY pair of shoes your wife aware of when & where she bought them..and how much she paid. Your lack of knowledge may become a sinister aspect of your life if you don't. I myself have 15+ pair..and I dare say with absolute cert. that my man wouldn't have a clue as to where or when they were acquired. Point many men actually know or really care how many pair of shoes his woman has? Mundane everyday life becomes very sinister in the shadow of a crime.

  • buford Mar 24, 2011

    knockitoff...I was thinking about that phone call the other day too..I listened to it again..but I kind of thought the opposite. I thought that she REALLY thought that he did something to her and she just didn't know how to proceed..without letting too much time go by. If she WAS involved, I just don't think she would have been the one to call the police..and bring suspicion to herself..I mean you don't want to talk to the cops, especially when you're know..just venting too though ;-)

  • knockitoff Mar 24, 2011

    The whole timeline of the Jessica Adams 911 call just BUGS me
    I think she was involved somehow, some way for heavens sake...I can disapear myslef for 5 hours on any given Saturday when I am errand running.....something is JUST not right with that woman. Heavens forbid my friends or kids call 911 if I don't come home for 5 hours. Okay we've been there, don't that just venting (talking out loud).

  • _kommon_sense_ Mar 24, 2011

    Even if he is 100% innoccent it would be too risky with the questions they would ask and how the jury would perceive the truthfulness of his responses. He DOES NOT HAVE TO PROVE INNOCENCE the prosecution HAS TO PROVE GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. They clearly have not done that. I don't think they have anything to do that or they would have used it by now. When the defense goes they will tear apart every part of the prosecution's case.

  • busterbluth Mar 24, 2011


  • whatever02 Mar 24, 2011

    They certainly do helpthekids. Good memory.

  • jinjen Mar 24, 2011

    It is finally getting interesting.

  • Spongebob Mar 24, 2011

    I don't have the greatest memory but it seems like this detective's testimony and Diana Duncan's testimony contradict a bit regarding the dress.