Nancy Cooper

Cooper judge orders probe of possible juror misconduct

Posted March 25, 2011 10:24 a.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2011 4:35 p.m. EDT

— The presiding judge in the murder trial of Brad Cooper has asked the Wake County Sheriff's Office to investigate a possible case of juror misconduct.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner received an e-mail Friday morning about one of the jurors allegedly talking in public about the case.

"It does appear that it would be error on my part to ignore it at this point," he said.

Brad Cooper, 37, is on trial for first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of his wife, Nancy Cooper, 34.

His defense attorney, Robert Trenkle, objected to Gessner's order, on the grounds that the e-mail is vague and "could serve to intimidate or chill the jurors" in violation of his client's rights.

"My primary concern is that I have repeatedly given these jurors instructions that they are not to talk about this matter among themselves or allow anybody to talk about it in their presence," Gessner said, "and I need to determine whether or not that has been violated."

Meanwhile, the trial continued Friday morning with an AT&T analyst testifying about cell phone records in the case.

Brad Cooper has said that Nancy Cooper went jogging the morning of her death and never returned home. Her body was found two days later in a drainage ditch about 3 miles from the Coopers' Cary home.

Defense attorneys have said Cary police work in the case was "inept" and "dishonest," because they disregarded evidence that didn't support their theory that Brad Cooper killed his wife.