Nancy Cooper

Cooper jury not ready to share deliberations

Posted May 6, 2011 5:33 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2011 10:11 p.m. EDT

— The foreman of the jury that found Brad Cooper guilty of his wife's 2008 murder said Friday that, after eight weeks together, jurors agreed on two things – the verdict and a plan to keep their discussions about that decision among themselves.

"What went on in that room will stay there for awhile," Robert "Andy" Gilbert said.

Gilbert talked to WRAL News Friday but declined to appear on camera. He said jurors agreed that none of them would give a televised interview at least for a few days.

Gilbert, one of two men and 10 women on the panel, found Cooper guilty of first-degree murder Thursday afternoon. As their decision was read, some of them were moved to tears.

"It was a difficult few days," Gilbert said of the deliberations. "If you saw our faces when we came out, that says a lot."

Prosecutors argued that Brad Cooper strangled his wife, Nancy Cooper, in the early morning hours of July 12, 2008, at their Cary home. Her decomposing body was found in a drainage ditch 3 miles away on July 14, 2008. 

"You can never feel good about a case like this," Gilbert said, "but we did what we were charged to do. We did the job we were given.”

Gilbert said both the sides did their job in presenting the case. 

Brad Cooper's defense team argued that Cary police fixated on their client in an effort to quickly close the case and defend Cary's reputation as a safe community. They characterized police work as being "dishonest" and "inept."

“They did their job, but they need to look in the mirror. There’s a lot they’ll need to reflect on,” Gilbert said of Cary police. 

The trial, the longest non-capital murder case ever in Wake County, wore on jurors. After the 35th day of testimony, one of them sent Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner a note that said, in part, "We want our lives back." Gilbert said he didn't know about the note until Friday.

During the trial, jurors were asked to refrain from discussing the case or reading or watching media reports. Gilbert said he would return home to newspapers with holes in them from where his wife cut out any stories about the case to help him uphold that requirement.