Nancy Cooper

Cooper defense attorney asks for mistrial

Posted April 19, 2011 2:21 p.m. EDT
Updated April 20, 2011 2:34 p.m. EDT

— One of the attorneys representing Brad Cooper in his first-degree murder trial for the death of wife, Nancy Cooper, asked for a mistrial Tuesday, accusing the judge of being "clearly biased."

Howard Kurtz also asked that Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner recuse himself from the case.

"I believe that your rulings have been consistently outside the bounds of prudent jurisprudence," Kurtz said.

Gessner noted the objections and denied both motions.

The courtroom explosion, on the first day of the defense's case, followed another ruling Tuesday by Gessner that the defense's computer expert, James Ward, is not qualified to testify about computer forensics.

That ruling came after nearly two hours of witness examination outside the presence of the jury.

Gessner, however, did rule that Ward could be tendered as an expert in network security and vulnerability assessment.

Brad Cooper, 37, is accused of killing his wife in the early-morning hours of July 12, 2008, and dumping her body in an undeveloped subdivision 3 miles from their Cary home.

Defense attorneys have said that Nancy Cooper went jogging that morning and never returned home.

Cary police singled out Brad Cooper, defense attorneys have said, early in the investigation, because they were concerned about the town's reputation for being a safe community.

The police work, they have said, was inept and dishonest. Evidence that could have helped clear Brad Cooper was ignored, and his work laptop was tampered with while in police custody.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ward showed jurors how to hack a computer network similar to what was in Brad Cooper's home.

"From a security standpoint, how effective is it to keep someone out?" Kurtz asked.

"It's like trying to keep someone out of your house using a screen door," Ward replied.

Ward also testified that Brad Cooper's employer, Cisco Systems Inc., deleted data, such as email, contacts and calendar items, on Brad Cooper's work cellphone, on Oct. 29, 2008.

That was two days after Brad Cooper was charged in his wife's death.

Ward said "deprovisioning" devices, like Cooper's Samsung Blackjack smartphone, isn't an uncommon security measure for companies to take.