Documents uncover conflicting accounts of Cooper marriage
Posted July 23, 2008 1:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 24, 2008 1:40 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Attorneys for Brad Cooper filed a motion Wednesday for the release of autopsy findings in the death of his slain wife, Nancy Cooper.
Attorneys Howard Kurtz and Seth Blum assert that a petition Nancy Cooper's family filed last week seeking custody of their client's two young daughters implies he was involved in his wife's death. They want the opportunity to "challenge the plaintiffs' unfounded insinuation," according to the motion.
The motion is one of three filed on Brad Cooper's behalf in the custody case. Last week, a judge awarded temporary emergency custody to their maternal grandparents, Garry and Donna Rentz, and maternal aunt, Krista Lister.
A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Friday.
Nancy Cooper's family's attorney, Alice Stubbs, also filed numerous affidavits late Wednesday afternoon from friends and neighbors who claim Brad Cooper was an absent father who was socially awkward, controlling and emotionally abusive.
Jessica Adam, who reported Nancy Cooper missing on July 12, states she believes he killed his wife.
Cary police have not named any suspects or persons of interest in the homicide case but have said the crime was not random. They have also said that Brad Cooper has been cooperative with investigators. His attorneys maintain he did not kill his wife.
Nancy Cooper had been missing for two days when a man found her body, wearing little clothing, while walking his dog on July 14.
In the petition for custody filed last week, Nancy Cooper's family claims Brad Cooper was emotionally abusive to her and the children, withheld funds for basic needs, had a sexual relationship with another woman and threatened suicide last winter.
Another affidavit filed Wednesday contains a recommendation from a psychologist that if the claims were true, Brad Cooper should have a mental evaluation before he has any more contact with the children
But Brad Cooper's attorneys say in another motion that Nancy Cooper described her husband as a "fit father" and that she had been seeking joint custody prior to her death because "she believed it was in her daughters' best interest to have contact with their father."
The motion also alleges Nancy Cooper had an "extramarital encounter" and that his "liaison" with another woman should have no bearing on Brad Cooper's fitness as a parent. In an affidavit, Brad Cooper said his wife's "extramarital relationship" occurred four years before their oldest daughter was born.
"Nancy insisted that she did nothing wrong, that her relationship with the other man only happened once, it wasn't sexual and that no one even knew his name," the document stated.
Stubbs had no comment about the claim Wednesday afternoon.
Nancy Cooper's friends also allege in affidavits that Brad Cooper had at least four extramarital affairs, including one with Heather Metour, who they say was Nancy Cooper’s best friend at the time of the affair.
“She’s upset any of this that occurred four years ago is being brought up at all. It's got nothing to do with the custody case,” Metour’s lawyer John McNeil said Wednesday.
In the affidavit, Brad Cooper also denies that he threatened to commit suicide. He admits to having a "heated argument" with his wife once when his children were present. Otherwise, "we rarely had them in front of the children and usually did not yell at each other," he said.
Brad Cooper also says he shared in the daily care of his daughters and "changed countless diapers" and "contributed in every way possible to their care."
He also speaks about claims that he withheld funds, saying he put his wife on an allowance after her spending habits amounted to approximately $45,000 in "unmanageable" credit card debt.
"I loved Nancy very much, and I wanted to stay married to her," he said in the affidavit.
A draft of the couple's separation agreement lays out plans for the division of the couple's assets and custody arrangements. It states Nancy Cooper would have primary custody and be entitled to move back to her native homeland of Canada.
Brad Cooper would be allowed to see their children at least every other weekend. The children could travel to him, provided Nancy Cooper accompanied them on each flight, and that he pay for any travel expenses incurred, including his wife's.
Nancy Cooper remembered in Canada
Meanwhile, Wednesday, hundreds of Nancy Cooper's family and friends gathered for a memorial service at Grace Lutheran Church in her hometown of Edmonton, Alberta.
The service began with a slideshow set to a medley of music including Garth Brooks' "The Dance," "Crazy Love" and "You Are My Sunshine," a song she frequently sang to her two daughters, Bella, 4, and Katie, who turned 2, on Wednesday.
The Canadian Broadcasting Co. reported Wednesday that an urn and photos of Cooper would be placed at the front of the church during the service.
"Her brother is going to share some thoughts that a couple of friends in North Carolina have written up and passed on for him to share," Pastor Larry MacKay, who led the service, told CBC-Canada. "And then a close friend from some years back is also going to share some memories of her."
Attorneys for Brad Cooper said he would not attend Wednesday's service, saying he planned to hold a private memorial with friends in Cary.
Nearly 200 people showed up for a public memorial service Saturday at Koka Booth Amphitheater at Regency Park in Cary. The service was marked by some of Cooper's favorite music, and guests wore white in her memory.