Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper defense rests case

Posted April 29, 2011 10:29 a.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2011 7:27 p.m. EDT

— Attorneys for a Cary man who's been on trial for murder for nearly two months have rested their case after calling two dozen witnesses to testify.

For about three hours Friday morning, jurors reviewed evidence presented over the past two weeks by Brad Cooper's defense team, which has argued that police ignored evidence that didn't support the theory that their client killed his wife nearly three years ago.

Prosecutors say Brad Cooper, 37, strangled Nancy Cooper, 34, in the early hours of July 12, 2008, and dumped her body at a housing construction site 3 miles from their home in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood.

Brad Cooper, who faces life in prison if he is found guilty, says his wife went for a jog and never returned home.

Much of the defense's case centered on computer evidence and cellphone forensics, as well as witnesses who said they told police they thought they saw Nancy Cooper jogging on the morning of her disappearance.

Jurors were not allowed to hear evidence from forensics expert Giovanni Masucci, who said Thursday that files on the laptop Brad Cooper used at his job as a Cisco Systems engineer were altered after police seized the computer.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner ruled Masucci, who was called after the defense's original witness was disqualified as an expert, couldn't testify because prosecutors didn't have time to consult with their experts to prepare for an adequate cross-examination.

Masucci said that files related to a Google Maps search of the site where Nancy Cooper's body was found had invalid timestamps, which was indicative of tampering. The state has said the altered files were the results of automatic computer updates.

Gessner dismissed the jury early Friday to accommodate the needs of one of the jurors, but prosecutors are expected to call additional witnesses next week, before closing arguments, to refute the defense's evidence.

"We've come a long way," Gessner told jurors. "But we still have a long way to go."

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said that would include Cisco employees to testify about new evidence that Brad Cooper might have had computer equipment that enabled him to make a remote call from his home phone to his cellphone.

The state contends that the Cisco-certified expert in Internet voice technology might have used a specific router to stage the call so that it appeared Nancy Cooper was still alive hours after she had been killed.

Defense attorneys have pointed out that police never seized any evidence that indicates he did.