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State will ask Supreme Court to consider Brad Cooper appeal

Posted September 10, 2013
Updated September 20, 2013

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— The North Carolina Attorney General's Office said Tuesday it plans to ask the state Supreme Court to review last week's Court of Appeals opinion ordering a new trial for Brad Cooper, a Cary man convicted in the 2008 death of his wife.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ordered a new murder trial for Cooper last week, citing rulings made by Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner that allowed computer evidence and disallowed a defense witness.

Because the Appeals Court's decision was unanimous, the state Supreme Court could let it stand, opening the door for a new trial for Cooper. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office planned to ask the high court to hear the case. 

Brad Cooper was convicted in May 2011 and is serving a life prison sentence for first-degree murder in the July 2008 death of Nancy Cooper, whose body was found in a drainage ditch in a cul-de-sac of an undeveloped subdivision near their home.

He says his wife went jogging one Saturday morning in July 2008 and never returned home.

Nancy Cooper with family Nancy Cooper murder case

Brad Cooper's appeal centered on a ruling that allowed as evidence of a Google Maps search of the site where Nancy Cooper's body was found – the only concrete evidence linking Brad Cooper to the crime.

State witnesses testified during the trial that the search was performed the day before she disappeared, but defense attorneys contended that someone tampered with the computer.

"The trial court did err in limiting (Jay) Ward's testimony in such a manner that prevented him from testifying concerning data retrieved from the laptop, including the Google Maps files," the three-member panel said in its 56-page ruling.

Ward was a network security professional but was found by the trial court not to be qualified as a forensics computer analyst. Another expert witness for the defense, Giovanni Masucci, also wasn't allowed to testify about the files, partly because the judge found that his name was not on a potential witness list, as required by law.

"The Google Map files recovered from the defendant's laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial," the appeals court said. "We hold that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding Ward from testifying, relying on the state's own evidence, to his opinion that the Google Maps files recovered from the defendant's laptop had been tampered with."

Brad Cooper's trial attorney, Howard Kurtz, welcomed the ruling, saying he was "thrilled" that his client will get another day in court.

"It's hard to be completely happy when something like this happens, because we shouldn't have had to have gone through an appeal," Kurtz said. "The evidence that drove the conviction was the map. So the fact that I had not only one but two witnesses prepared to say that these maps were planted on that computer would have made all the difference in the world."

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  • ConservativeVoter Sep 11, 2013

    DAs and LEOs believe that the person is guilty no matter what even if the appeals court says they didn't receive a fair trial.

    In the case of Brad Cooper, the DAs, LEOs, and the judge don't want their dirty laundry getting aired.

  • ConservativeVoter Sep 11, 2013

    Couple of problems with our current justice system.

    1st - judges are elected officials and therefore they are partisan no matter what they say.

    2nd - the elected position of DA is the entry point to higher elected office

    3rd - when DA's run for higher offices, they use their conviction rate to campaign with and show they are tough on crime.

    4th - not convicting innocent people doesn't come into play

    5th - ADAs are compensated, rewarded, and promoted based on their conviction rate. Free innocent people hurts their compensation plan.

    6th - judges, leo's and DAs are too close. There needs to be some distance.

  • dollibug Sep 11, 2013

    It is sad when INNOCENT PEOPLE are indicted, tried and convicted. Our court system is supposed to be about JUSTICE. But it seems like it is a place where *facts* do NOT count. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There should be EVIDENCE and enough of it to not cause *reasonable doubt* that the accused is GUILTY. I have to wonder what makes anyone *STRETCH THE TRUTH* or even give *illusions* of something that would not/could not and should not be part of the trial in the first place. Our Judicial System has become a GAME-and the winner is whom ever can make the best efforts of what might have been, without making sure that what is revealed is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There were lots of *issues* bought up in the Brad Cooper trial which did NOT fit. But the Prosecution still tried and succeeded to *trick the jurors* into believing what they were saying-and a judge who *allowed* it to happen. It turned out to be an *EXPENSIVE GAME* which backfired.

  • sandim50 Sep 10, 2013

    BC deserves a new trial. He was only guilty in the media!
    Let us hear from the expert testimony not allowed in the first trial

  • Alexia.1 Sep 10, 2013

    "How ignorant does the defense think is the public? There are three possibilities. 1: Brad did it 2:a random killer killed his wife, sneaked into his home (how did he/she know where to go?), planted evidence and left without a trace or 3: His wife was targeted, tracked, murdered, home was entered, false evidence planted and the killer left without a trace. Hmmmm, I remember the KISS principal. Which possibility is most likely? This tale reminds me of the other laughable killer owl story." --pedsrndad

    There are, indeed, many possibilities. Recall the woman in north Raleigh who was robbed and killed in her own home? Had the suspects not tried to pawn her stuff, it would still be unsolved. They're blame the husband, like they did Brad.

    There may have been that white van the one witness mentioned. There were unidentified tire tracks leading to her body, after all.

    It might have been one of Nancy's lovers or spouses. Trial going on in Raleigh like that now!

  • Alexia.1 Sep 10, 2013

    For any person with sense God gave a goose, which by definition excludes the prosecution as being such people, knows there is a dearth of evidence to support the state's case. They won by telling half-truths, withholding information from the jury, denying Brad an opportunity to even refute some of the state's claims, and, in some cases, outright lies to the jury.

    They harped about ducks, yet those were found before the trial was over. They harped about a fake phone call, yet there was no evidence that there was a fake phone call placed. Oh, but they claim there was a missing router, yet the router by itself could not produce that fake phone call and there was no evidence his laptop of any Cisco equipment was used to make a fake call. Truth and facts did not matter to the prosecution.

    I definitely agree that BC deserves a new trial, hopefully this time with an impartial judge and a jury that cares about the person they're going to convict as much as they "want their lives back".

  • In Decisive Sep 10, 2013

    Kind of expected. It costs the state very little to get this decision reviewed and if the supreme court agrees with the original verdict and overturns the appeals court then the state won't have to retry the case.

  • yellow_hat Sep 10, 2013

    Why would the State object to a new trial? I mean they are more interested in justice than winning, right????

  • thinkin out loud Sep 10, 2013

    Give the man a new trial and convince 12 people that was "planted" on the computer. Guilty Again

  • WralCensorsAreBias Sep 10, 2013

    Cooper and Cooper.

    This alone will undo any chances Roy had, delusionally mind you, of being Governor.

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