Local News

Brad Cooper wants custody case dismissed

Posted September 17, 2008 12:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 17, 2008 5:54 p.m. EDT

— Brad Cooper is asking a judge to dismiss the custody case involving his two young daughters and is challenging claims from his slain wife's family that he is an unfit father, according to new court documents WRAL obtained Wednesday.

Cooper denies claims from Nancy Cooper's parents that he was emotionally abusive to his wife, withheld money and is mentally unstable, and he says the allegations are based on "gossip, unwarranted deductions, assumptions and hearsay."

He wants Donna and Garry Rentz and Nancy Cooper's sister, Krista Lister, to hand over e-mails, text messages and other documentation to prove the allegations – they also say Brad Cooper was the last person to see his wife alive before her death and that she never went jogging on the morning of July 12.

A man walking his dog on July 14 found Nancy Cooper's body in an undeveloped subdivision less than three miles from the Coopers' home in Cary. Cary police have not named Brad Cooper a suspect in the case.

On July 16, a judge granted emergency custody to Nancy Cooper's family after they filed a petition claiming Brad Cooper is an unfit father.

The two parties reached a temporary custody arrangement that keeps the two children with the family until next month. A hearing on the matter is scheduled the week of Oct. 13.

In the latest documents, Brad Cooper also disputes allegations of multiple extramarital affairs – he says he had a "single indiscretion" – and says he never denied his wife money and that phone records prove she always had access to a cell phone and they were in constant contact.

He says the allegations are nothing but "scandalous material" that has created "bias with both the court and the press."

In the weeks following Nancy Cooper's death, Brad Cooper, through his attorneys, has denied any part in his wife's disappearance or death and had aggressively challenged rumors and speculation that he was somehow involved.

His attorneys launched a Web page on their law firm's Web site earlier this summer pleading for people to contact them for information. On Tuesday, they added grocery store surveillance video, receipts and photos to support their case.

They've also filed hundreds of pages of court documents challenging witnesses' statements and claims that they say defame their client.

"We're trying to help him get his life back," Seth Blum said. "We don't know of any other way to try and protect Brad's reputation."

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willougby says the amount of information being put forth by the attorneys is highly unusual, especially when no one has been named a suspect.

"It's certainly very interesting insight," Willoughby said. "I think you see this kind of behavior in longer term investigations where folks want to try to impact or influence public opinion before a case is resolved."

The custody case is expected back in court later this month for a hearing to determine whether Brad Cooper should undergo a mental evaluation.

The custody hearing is scheduled for the week of Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, Cary police have said they are making progress with the murder case. Willoughby said Wednesday he thinks they are doing "a proper and professional investigation."