Nancy Cooper

Closing arguments Tuesday in Brad Cooper trial

Posted May 2, 2011 12:02 p.m. EDT
Updated May 3, 2011 10:28 a.m. EDT

— After eight weeks of testimony, prosecutors and defense attorneys will present closing arguments Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Brad Cooper, a Cary man accused of killing his wife, Nancy Cooper, nearly three years ago.

Superior Court Paul Gessner ruled Monday afternoon that he will limit closing arguments for each side to two hours, with defense attorneys going first.

Citing legal precedent, Gessner also said he will allow jurors to consider a second-degree murder conviction, in addition to the first-degree charge, as potential verdicts.

Testimony concluded Monday morning with prosecutors calling their last five witnesses to refute testimony from the defense.

Greg Miglucci, a field trial engineer who worked with Brad Cooper at Cisco Systems in 2008, testified that the defendant borrowed from his department a Cisco 3825S router in January 2008 and that he has never been able to find the device.

Cary police investigators have theorized that Brad Cooper, an engineer in Voice over Internet Protocol, had the expertise and ability to use the router to stage a remote call from his home phone to his cellphone so that it appeared that Nancy Cooper, 34, was alive on the morning that she disappeared.

Prosecutors have argued that she was killed hours earlier on July 12, 2008, after she returned home from a neighborhood party and that Brad Cooper dumped her body at a housing construction site 3 miles from the couple's home. An autopsy found she had likely been strangled.

The phone call in question was made around 6:40 a.m. prior to when, defense attorneys say, Nancy Cooper left for a jog. According to phone records, Brad Cooper received the call while he was on his way to a Harris Teeter to buy laundry detergent.

Investigators never recovered any computer equipment from the Cooper home that would have enabled him to make the call. The state has implied that he might have gotten rid of the router.

Defense attorneys have called Cary police work "inept" and "dishonest," saying investigators were concerned about the town's reputation for being a safe community and that they ignored evidence and witnesses that didn't support their theory that Brad Cooper killed his wife.

One of those witnesses, Rosemary Zednick, testified for the defense that she felt investigators weren't listening to her when she tried to tell them that she spoke to a female jogger on the morning of July 12, 2008, whom she was confident was Nancy Cooper.

Three Cary police officers testified Monday that they each spoke to Zednick on separate occasions in July 2008 and that her story differed each time.

Larry Arellano said Zednick told him on July 16, 2008, that the jogger might have been listening to an iPod and that she wasn't sure if the woman was Nancy Cooper.

Detective Michelle Savage said that Zednick told her on July 26, 2008, that the jogger was listening to an iPod and that she was sure the woman was Nancy Cooper – or someone who looked familiar.

Zednick also told Savage and officer Michael Lindley on July 24, 2008, that she thought Nancy Cooper was struck by a car and that the driver got nervous and took the body and dumped it.

Witnesses familiar with Nancy Cooper's jogging routine have testified that, to their knowledge, she never ran with an iPod.

The Coopers moved from Canada to Cary in 2001, family and friends have testified. The couple's marriage faced troubles in the last year or so of Nancy Cooper's life, over an admitted affair by Brad Cooper and financial issues.

Nancy Cooper was wanting to divorce her husband and move back to Canada with their two young daughters, they have testified.