Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper was framed, defense attorney says

Posted May 6, 2011
Updated June 2, 2011

— One of two defense attorneys for Brad Cooper said Friday that he firmly believes his client was framed and that he believes there is a strong chance to win an appeal on Thursday's first-degree murder conviction.

Cooper, 37, was arrested in October 2008, more than three months after his wife, Nancy Cooper, was found strangled to death 3 miles from their Cary home.

Evidence presented during the eight weeks of testimony was mostly circumstantial, with the exception of a Google Maps search that, defense attorney Howard Kurtz says, was the only piece of evidence that prosecutors had that linked Brad Cooper to the crime.

"Their case was exclusively based on this one map, and the map, in and of itself, bears several different neon signs that point ‘tampering here’ that were very difficult to find, mind you, but once found were very easy to see," he said.

The state argued that three days before Nancy Cooper’s decomposing body was found in an unfinished subdivision, Brad Cooper used his work laptop to search for the same site. Brad Cooper has said his wife went jogging and never returned home.

"There was information planted on the computer. Now, I cannot say by whom, but I can say that the files were placed on the machine," Kurtz said. "I think we can prove beyond any doubt that's what happened."

Kurtz said anyone who came into contact with the computer could have tampered with it.

Howard Kurtz Web only: Howard Kurtz on Cooper verdict

"That would include all of the police," he said. "That's the first group of people who could do it, but it's not limited to the police by any means, and I'm not saying the Cary Police Department did that."

"Beyond the police, any neighbors that were living in the wireless range could easily have the capability to alter files on the computer," he added.

Jurors were never allowed to see the evidence to prove the tampering, Kurtz said, because Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner ruled that the defense's expert witness wasn't qualified in computer forensics.

A second defense expert wasn't allowed to testify, partly because prosecutors said timing didn't allow for them to prepare for adequate cross-examination.

"There was no other evidence that I heard in that courtroom that was persuasive in any way, shape or form. I think that is the only piece of evidence that (the jury) could have chosen to make a decision based upon," Kurtz said. "To me, it was devastating that we were unable to address it."

Kurt said he does not believe Gessner understood the technology being presented.

"I think when technology becomes so central to a case, as this one, we should actually have judges who are trained and who understand the intricacies of the technology they're going to be making life-altering decisions over," he said.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore couldn't be reached for comment after Kurtz's interview Friday, but in an interview earlier in the day, she defended her detectives' work based on Kurtz's claims during the trial that it was dishonest and inept.

Mistakes were made, Bazemore said, but "we learn from them, and we move on."

"But there's never been a question about our detectives' integrity and their ability to investigate this case," she said.

Cooper, meanwhile, is at Central Prison in Raleigh, where he'll stay as he undergoes a diagnostic and admission process into the state prison system.

"He accepted what he heard in the courtroom," Kurtz said. "I believe he understands that the appellate process is just beginning, and I think we have a tremendously good chance at appeal."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • spookems Jun 7, 2011

    Will Wake county DA Colon Willoughby be the first DA in the state to have two murder convictions overturned by the Innocence Commission. Will Cary become the first town in the state to have two innocent men have their life sentences overturned by the Innocence Commission.

  • thescarletpimpernel May 19, 2011

    Willoughby was in the courtroom along with Cummings. Maybe Gessner whined that it wasn't it his fault and blamed it on the defense and prosecutors not having their act together. Maybe Stephens and others thought Gessner handled the case inappropriately.

  • Bruce s May 19, 2011

    We, the people and citizens of the USA..have a right to answers on this trial...dollibug

    I agree with dollibug..The jury represents the public does it not? The American Justice system is built on that if we are accussed of a crime we are to be tried before a jury of our peers?? So if these jurors in BC's case represent the public as his jury of peers, then yes we the public deserve to know why they found him guilty! They speak for us, so I disagree with the judge when he says they do not owe anybody an explanation. Especially in this case where it was streamed Live and videos were avaiable for all. So we all had access to view what they viewed except when the cameras had to be turned off. We heard and we saw what they saw, and a large portion of the public does not agree with the verdict they came to and we do not understand how the convicted him when there was so much reasonable doubt in this case!

  • ilovecountry56 May 19, 2011

    @ compressed air111 - if you got priveledges revoked how are you getting through to moderator.. I was just curious? someone may have reported abuse on you don't know ,, I have seen nothing you have said out of the way.

  • ilovecountry56 May 19, 2011

    on the Young case someone must have taken control for the judge to make comments like he is not gonna be putting up with no junk on this trial. So we do know that the upper hand seen what went wrong on the cooper trial but what are they going to do about it now??

  • Compressed Air lll May 19, 2011

    RE: Compressed Air, you've made someone mad.


  • thescarletpimpernel May 19, 2011

    +++I suspect the Cooper murder wasn't really a murder but a plan that went wrong.

    A plan? My interest is piqued! Blackmail?

  • thescarletpimpernel May 19, 2011

    About those jurors. I do hope they are at peace with themselves. I guess they are happy to have their lives back. Maybe some will want to seek the real truth in this case.

  • thescarletpimpernel May 19, 2011

    Compressed Air, you've made someone mad.

  • thescarletpimpernel May 19, 2011

    Anyone watching the Young trial? Judge Stephens just instructed the attorneys that there were would be no jury dismissal, up and down , all around in and out in his courtroom. All witness issues will be resolved at the end of the day after the jury was dismissed for the day. He made it clear this case would not last 2 -3 months. And folks better have their witnesses ready.

    Well well well.