Nancy Cooper

Brad Cooper thought affair would ruin family

Posted April 8, 2011 12:55 p.m. EDT
Updated April 8, 2011 4:48 p.m. EDT

— Brad Cooper said he denied an affair with a friend of his slain wife for about a year because he thought it would ruin his family.

"I thought that, by denying it, it would go away, and we could remain as a whole family. That was my reason for denying it," he said in a deposition that jurors watched Friday morning in his first-degree murder trial.

Prosecutors say he strangled his wife sometime in the early-morning hours of July 12, 2008, and dumped her body at a construction site 3 miles from their Cary home.

Defense attorneys have said that she went jogging that morning and never returned home. Cary police, they have said, ignored evidence that could have proved their client's innocence.

The Oct. 2, 2008, videotaped deposition, taken before Brad Cooper was arrested in the case, was part of a child custody fight between him and Nancy Cooper's family.

His affair with a woman named Heather Metour was one of two troubles in the Cooper marriage, witnesses have testified. The other was finances.

In his deposition, Brad Cooper said his wife spent more money than they could afford, and he put her on a weekly cash allowance for them "to spend within our means."

"We had to be financially responsible," he said. "As best as I could, I tried to – when possible – I tried to indulge her requests. And when impossible, we had to say no, we couldn't afford something."

Nancy Cooper was angry, he said, that they didn't have more money to spend.

"She referred to me as the Budget Nazi," he said. "It made me feel that it was an unfortunate situation that our monthly bills were high enough that we didn't have more spare cash to spend and allocate to enjoyment – expenditures that would bring more enjoyment to ourselves and the kids."

Prosecutors contend that Brad Cooper became financially controlling after his wife wanted to take the couple's two children and move back home to Canada to be closer to her family.

Nancy Cooper's father, Garry Rentz, testified Thursday that his daughter told him that her husband cut her off from their credit cards and removed her name from their bank accounts.

He also hid the children's passports, Rentz said. That effectively canceled the move, other witnesses have said, because Nancy Cooper wasn't leaving without her children.

Because she was a Canadian citizen without a U.S. work visa, she couldn't work. Getting money to her, Rentz said, was difficult, because she did not have a Social Security number to open a bank account.

Rentz testified that the clearest declaration Nancy Cooper made to him about her desire to leave was on the beach in Hilton Head, S.C., two weeks before she was killed.

"'Dad, I'm through. I need to get out of this situation,'" Rentz recalled his daughter telling him. "'It's not great for the kids, and it's certainly not great for me.'"

Brad Cooper said in the deposition that Nancy Cooper had been a supportive and "very loving" wife and mother. It had been her decision that the marriage was over.

"I would say we had our ups and downs," he said of the marriage.

During the seven months before Nancy Cooper's death, "I would say that our marriage was more on the down side of things," he said.