Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Monday granted a temporary stay in the appeal of the 2011 first-degree murder conviction of a Cary man found guilty of killing his wife more than five years ago.
The state Court of Appeals ruled on Sept. 3 that Brad Cooper should get a new trial for the strangling death of Nancy Cooper after the judge erred in the 10-week murder trial by not allowing defense witnesses to testify about critical evidence that could have changed the jury's verdict.
Friday's motion for a stay, filed by the North Carolina Attorney General's Office, asked that the process of re-trying the case be put on hold while the state Supreme Court reviews the Appeals Court's ruling.
It's unclear when the Supreme Court will decide whether to hear the case.
Brad Cooper, 39, is serving a life prison sentence the crime. He maintains that Nancy Cooper left to go jogging on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned home.
Her body was found several days later in a drainage ditch in an undeveloped subdivision a few miles from their Cary home.
But Wake County prosecutors argued that Brad Cooper killed his wife after she returned home from a neighborhood party. Witnesses said the Coopers, who moved to Cary from Canada, were in the process of separating and that Nancy Cooper wanted to move back to Canada with their two young children.
The state's only concrete evidence in the case was a Google Maps search of the site where the body was found.
They contended it was made the day before Nancy Cooper disappeared, but defense attorneys argued that someone tampered with Brad Cooper's computer while it was left powered on in the home while Cary police were searching the house for evidence.
Two witnesses were not allowed to give their expert opinion that someone tampered with the Google Maps files.
"The Google Map files recovered from the defendant's laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial," the three-judge appellate panel wrote in its 56-page ruling.