Nancy Cooper

Defense: State 'utterly failed' to prove Brad Cooper's guilt

Posted May 3, 2011
Updated May 4, 2011

— Prosecutors tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Brad Cooper killed his wife nearly three years ago "utterly failed to meet that burden," defense attorneys said Tuesday in closing arguments in the Cary man's lengthy murder trial.

But the state argued that the facts of the case prove otherwise – that the defendant repeatedly lied to police and that he had the means and motive to strangle Nancy Cooper.

Robert Trenkle Full video: Closing arguments

Marking an end to eight weeks of testimony, nearly 100 witnesses and four hours of arguments, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said little during the final three minutes of his presentation, dramatizing how long it would have taken Nancy Cooper to die.

Family and friends of the victim cried while Brad Cooper sat with no visible reaction.

"Now, she's dead," Cummings finally told jurors, who will decide on a verdict. "I ask you to find him guilty of first-degree murder."

In addition to a first-degree murder conviction, jurors can consider second-degree murder, as well as a not guilty verdict.

The state contends that Brad Cooper, 37, killed Nancy Cooper, 34, in the early hours of July 12, 2008, and dumped her body at a housing construction site 3 miles from their Cary home. The couples' marriage of seven years was troubled, they say, and Nancy Cooper was seeking a divorce.

Defense attorneys say Nancy Cooper went jogging around 7 a.m. the day she died and never returned home.

Defense closing arguments, part 1 Defense arguments, part 1

Earlier Tuesday, they outlined the testimony they said casts doubt on the state's case and raises questions about the ethics and work of the Cary Police Department.

Attorney Howard Kurtz said police dismissed accounts of people who thought they saw Nancy Cooper jogging and suggested that they ignored or tampered with evidence that didn't fit the theory that Brad Cooper killed his wife.

"The Cary Police Department had an agenda," he said. "They wanted desperately to show the citizens of Cary that their town was safe, that the police department was doing its job, that this wasn't a random act of violence."

Kurtz said police never tested footprints and tire tracks around the victim's body, erased her BlackBerry smartphone and allowed "a systematic tampering" of witnesses by Nancy Cooper's friends. Those friends, he said, created a "mythology" about the couple's troubled marriage that "bore little resemblance to the truth."

Robert Trenkle Defense arguments, part 2

Prosecutors characterized the claims as nothing more than attempts to distract jurors.

Much of their argument focused on a 6:40 a.m. phone call on July 12, 2008, and a July 11, 2008, Google Maps search of the site where Nancy Cooper's body was found.

The state argued that Brad Cooper, an expert in Internet phone technology for Cisco Systems in Research Triangle Park, might have staged the call from his home phone to his cellphone so that it appeared his wife was alive.

Investigators never recovered any computer equipment, including a special router, that could have enabled him to make the call, but he had access to it and had used it on the home phone earlier that year, Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said.

"He had all the ingredients to make this phone call happen," Zellinger said. "We don't know exactly where that router is, (but) that doesn't mean that the defendant didn't instigate that phone call."

State closing arguments, part 1 State arguments, part 1

One piece of evidence that defense attorneys couldn't dispute, he added, is the map search on Brad Cooper's password-protected Cisco laptop of Fielding Drive, where Nancy Cooper's body was found facedown in a drainage ditch on July 14, 2008.

"You cannot explain that away," he said. "Twelve hours before his wife was murdered, and he is zooming in on where his wife's body was ultimately found."

But Kurtz said nearly 700 files were tampered with on the computer, which police left running for 27 hours after they seized it during a search of the Cooper house. Every file related to the Google search had invalid timestamps, indicative of tampering, he said.

"The only opinion of tampering you've heard is Mr. Kurtz's," Zellinger said, adding that FBI computer experts found no indication of it.

"This timestamp is a red herring," he added. "They've dragged this across the courtroom floor to keep you from realizing the truth, the unalienable truth, the uncontroverted truth ... which is there is no tampering on that computer."

Howard Cummings State arguments, part 2

Defense attorney Robert Trenkle also argued that there is no physical evidence implicating Brad Cooper in the crime and that other elements in the case couldn't be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The house, the car, everywhere they tested – no blood, no bodily fluids, no evidence. Are you entirely convinced, fully satisfied?" he asked jurors. "Or do you have a reasonable doubt that Brad Cooper is not guilty?"

Admitting that the Cooper marriage was riddled with problems, including infidelity and financial issues, there were no indications that Brad Cooper was ever violent with his wife, Trenkle said, and Nancy Cooper's closest friends testified she was not afraid of her husband.

Kutz said that from the start of the investigation, police encouraged Nancy Cooper's friends to provide them with more information and that they asked the types of questions that would elicit more and more negative information about Brad Cooper.

"What we see in this case is an amazingly detailed investigation, but only detailed in one respect," Kurtz said. "The focus was exclusively to develop evidence on Brad Cooper."

The by-product, he said, was a form of "virtual justice."

"They are willing to do it in a desperate attempt to avoid having to face facing the truth about their own shoddy and unprofessional work throughout this case," Kurtz said. "Thomas Jefferson said he'd rather give up his right to vote than his right to a jury, and this case shows you why."


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  • dollibug May 9, 2011

    Wanted to share the above link with others...

  • AnneM71 May 5, 2011

    I hope they appeal....his chances were slim with 10 women on the jury....he did not get a fair trial.

  • knockitoff May 5, 2011

    the moddy must be on a deletion frenzy in here....stuff is disappearing left and right, wasn't there like over a 1000 posts yesterday and today?

  • nufsaid May 5, 2011

    "WHEN did this case become about Domestic Violence?!! Did I miss something? I don't recall ANY testimony about Domestic Violence. sclarkguy

    Murder of a spouse is absolutely domestic violence...this entire case is about domestic violence.

    When did it become a case of domestic violence? Maybe when the Cary police chief made the following statement "With this very sad arrest, it should now be clear to everyone that Cary citizens have been and are safe," said Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore. "This was not a random act of violence but rather a case of domestic violence of the very worst kind, and I encourage every person in a challenging relationship right now to take the steps necessary to keep themselves safe. Don't wait, and don't think it can't happen to you."

    It seems that the CPD, beginning at the highest level have been feeding the media "information" to show BDI from the start.

  • nufsaid May 5, 2011

    "Before comes the verdict and I give a long break, I would like to thank WRAL, mediator and the staff in the court room making this case and the comments available to us...

    I agree. I really have appreciated the live feed and the ability to watch the videos of the actual court proceedings.

  • Everyonehasone May 4, 2011

    buford...LOL :)

  • busterbluth May 4, 2011

    wow some harsh stuff going on over in tweet land #coopertrial anyone read paketstorm's tweet?

  • busterbluth May 4, 2011

    knownfacts08 is on new story link for anyone that wants to read what he/she has to say :)

  • busterbluth May 4, 2011

    thisgirl.26 - hahahaha LUFF me some Arrested Development.

  • buford May 4, 2011

    Great job buford~ Maybe you should become a detective..:) (not joking or making fun of you.So please don't take that wrong. I am being sincere.:) - BCGuilty

    LOL...I scare "myself" sometimes..