Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper jury sees crime scene images

Posted March 21, 2011 9:25 a.m. EDT
Updated March 21, 2011 6:52 p.m. EDT

— Testimony continued Monday in the trial of a Cary man accused of killing his wife, with jurors viewing video and photos of the site where her body was recovered nearly three years ago.

Brad Cooper, 37, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of his wife, Nancy Cooper, 34. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

Nancy Cooper's body was found July 14, 2008, in a drainage ditch at a construction site in a neighborhood off Fielding Drive and Holly Springs Road, about 3 miles from the couple's home in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood..

Crime scene investigator Christopher Hill, a senior agent with the City-County Bureau of Identification, testified that he found Nancy Cooper face down in the ditch with her legs lying up along the bank.

She was wearing only a multi-colored sports bra and a set of earrings – one of which fell off and was lost while her body was being moved – he said.

Hill testified that he saw two pieces of electrical wire and a cigarette butt near her body, as well as footprints and tire tracks. Muddy conditions made it difficult, however, to create impressions of the tire tracks, and neither measurements nor impressions of the footprints were taken, he said, because they had been distorted by the mud.

During cross-examination, Hill said the interior wheel base of the tires measured 47 inches, smaller than wheel base of Brad Cooper's BMW.

The wires, Hill continued, were similar to those on a nearby light pole, and because of the fading, he thought they had probably been sitting outside for a while.

"We didn't feel like it was probably related," he said, adding that they collected the wires to be "on the safe side."

Jurors also heard from several Cary police personnel involved in a search for Nancy Cooper in the days after a friend reported her missing.

Cary Police Patrol Sgt. Brian Smith testified that, on the afternoon of July 14, 2008, before Nancy Cooper's body was recovered, he approached Brad Cooper about doing an interview with detectives at the police station because of the media presence outside his home.

"He told me he would be willing to meet at his house but not at the police station because he hadn't been charged with anything at the time," Smith said.

Instead, detectives decided to interview Brad Cooper at the Java Jive coffee shop on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, which was serving at the time as the base in the search for Nancy Cooper.

Brad Cooper has said his wife went jogging at 7 a.m. on the morning of her death and never returned. But prosecutors contend that he killed his wife inside their home when she returned home from a neighborhood party.

Defense attorneys have said that Cary police ignored evidence, including the tire marks and footprints, that could have proved someone else was responsible for Nancy Cooper's death.

The state has said the Coopers had been planning to separate and that Brad Cooper had cut his wife off financially because she had wanted to return to her native Canada with the couple's children.

Defense attorneys have said the couple was struggling financially and that their client gave his wife a weekly allowance of $300 to keep the family from financial ruin.

On Friday, Dr. John Butts, the retired chief medical examiner for North Carolina, testified that Nancy Cooper had likely died from asphyxiation by strangulation.

Her body was decomposed and had been infested with insects, he said, making it difficult to determine if there was any minor trauma, such as bruising or markings.

But there were three marks on the front of her neck that could not have been caused by insects, he said.