Local News

Date set for death-penalty decision by Cooper prosecutors

Posted October 30, 2008 9:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 31, 2008 9:56 a.m. EDT

— Brad Cooper will learn on Dec. 5 whether Wake County prosecutors will seek the death penalty if he is convicted of killing his wife.

A Superior Court judge signed an order Thursday afternoon setting the date for what is called a Rule 24 hearing. That is the time that prosecutors tell the court whether they will seek the death penalty, First Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said.

A grand jury on Monday indicted Cooper, 35, for first-degree murder more than three months after his wife's body was found in an undeveloped subdivision three miles from the Coopers' Cary home. A state medical examiner's autopsy found she had likely been strangled.

First-degree murder is punishable by either the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors must serve notice if they are going to ask for the death penalty.

Cooper told police Nancy Cooper went jogging around 7 a.m. on July 12 and never returned home. Through his attorneys, he has denied being involved with her slaying, but has admitted to police that he and his wife were having marital difficulties.

Claiming Cooper was emotionally abusive to his wife in the months prior to her death; Nancy Cooper's family filed for and was granted temporary custody of the Coopers' two young daughters.

Cooper remained Thursday evening in the Wake County Jail without bond.