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Judge denies Cooper request for FBI procedures

A hearing on why defense attorneys want a change of venue for Brad Cooper's murder trial in two months was continued until September.

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Brad Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Superior Court judge on Friday denied defense attorneys' request for FBI procedures used to examine computer files of a Cary man accused of killing his wife more than two years ago.

Brad Cooper is set to go to trial Oct. 25 for the July 2008 death of his wife, Nancy Cooper. His attorney, Howard Kurtz, argued Friday that the defense is entitled to the information to prepare its case.

"It is the most difficult task in the world to cross-examine an expert without having the expertise yourself," Kurtz told Judge Paul Gessner.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger argued that federal investigators use the same methods when looking at other cases, such as terrorism and child pornography.

Turning it over, they argued, could compromise the FBI's ability to investigate future cases.

"This is not germane to the case and is simply a fishing expedition," Zellinger said.

He added that prosecutors have already turned over evidence to the defense team that outlines how the state examined Cooper's computers and what they found.

"There's nothing about this information that's privileged," Kurtz countered. "There's nothing about it that jeopardizes national security."

Attorneys were also supposed to argue a motion for a change of trial venue, but it was continued until Sept. 10.

Cooper's attorneys filed a 23-page document last week citing local news reports, specifically those of WRAL News and The News & Observer, that they believe could keep their client from getting a fair trial in Wake County.

According to the motion, "extensive pre-trial publicity" might give jurors "preconceived impressions" of the case. Cooper's attorneys called the coverage of his case "inflammatory" and "prejudiced" regarding his potential guilt.

As police investigated Nancy Cooper's homicide in 2008, her family successfully fought a public battle for custody of the couple's two daughters. It included testimony from family and friends who asserted their beliefs that Brad Cooper killed his wife and claims that he had been emotionally abusive to her in the weeks leading to her death.

Days after Nancy Cooper was found, Brad Cooper's attorneys held a news conference to defend him against what they called "wild speculation" and "bizarre unsupported theories" on TV and Internet blogs.

They subsequently set up a website about the case, and in September 2008, posted surveillance videos, copies of receipts and photos of their client in an effort to dispute the allegations of Nancy Cooper's family and friends.

Cooper was arrested more than a month later and charged with first-degree murder.

He told investigators that his wife went jogging on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned home.

A man walking his dog two days later found the 34-year-old mother-of-two's body in an undeveloped subdivision less than three miles from the Coopers’ Lochmere home.

An autopsy determined that she had likely been strangled.

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