Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper appeals 2011 murder conviction

Posted November 6, 2012 4:30 p.m. EST
Updated November 7, 2012 2:00 p.m. EST

— Attorneys for a Cary man serving life in prison for the high-profile murder of his wife have completed their appellate brief, according to an attorney that represented him in his trial.

Howard Kurtz, a defense attorney for Brad Cooper, posted the brief, which he said was filed Monday, on his law firm's website blog Tuesday. The 47-page document addresses three issues that arose from Cooper's 10-week trial.

Cooper, 39, was found guilty May 5, 2011, of first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of Nancy Cooper. Her body was found in an undeveloped subdivision 3 miles from their home in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood.

Brad Cooper has maintained that his wife went jogging and never returned, but Wake County prosecutors argued that he strangled Nancy Cooper after she got home from a neighborhood party.

The state's evidence was mostly circumstantial, with the exception of a Google Maps search on Brad Cooper's laptop computer.

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

The appeal focuses on the map search and whether Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner erred by not allowing the jury to hear testimony from two computer experts.

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.

Another issue in the appeal has to do with whether the judge should have made prosecutors reveal the results of FBI tests on the laptop and how those tests were carried out.

Kurtz, who is not handling the appeal, has said that he believes there is a strong chance to win an appeal.

The brief was due earlier this year but was delayed because Brad Cooper's appellate attorneys did not receive trial transcripts on time.

Although Kurtz said the appeal was filed on Monday, a copy of it wasn't available Tuesday afternoon on the North Carolina Court of Appeals electronic filing site.

The state has 30 days to respond to the brief.