Nancy Cooper

Judge reminds Cooper jurors not to talk about case

Posted March 25, 2011 3:15 p.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2011 5:18 p.m. EDT

— The judge in the Brad Cooper murder trial said Friday afternoon the case would continue on schedule.

Hours earlier, Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner asked the Wake County Sheriff's Office to look into an email and voicemail to prosecutors that alleged a juror may have talked about the case. Prosecutors brought their concern before the court Friday morning.

The details of the messages were unclear, but it is against court rules for jurors to discuss the case with anyone outside of deliberations.

"They have looked into the matter, and based upon their response that they have provided to me, there is no need for any further inquiry at this time," Gessner said. "I am satisfied that we're in a position to proceed based on their report."

Gessner did not elaborate about the allegation or the investigation, but had said it would have been an error to let it go without looking into it.

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 the investigation on the grounds that the email is vague and an investigation "could serve to intimidate or chill the jurors" in violation of his client's rights.

Gessner did not discuss the matter with jurors before releasing them Friday afternoon but did remind them that they signed an agreement, pledging to follow a special set of rules during the trial.

Meanwhile, the trial continued Friday morning with an AT&T analyst testifying about cell phone records in the case and one of the lead detectives continuing his testimony from Thursday.

The state reviewed with detective Jim Young documents and papers that officers seized from the Cooper home during a July 16, 2008, search.

They included Nancy Cooper's Canadian passport, Social Security cards belonging to the Cooper children, articles about divorce and personal notes to Brad Cooper from a former girlfriend.

Gessner overruled an objection by defense attorneys to the personal notes taken from the closet of an upstairs office. They argued the notes were from the mid-1990s before Brad Cooper met his wife and could prejudice the jury.

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger argued that the fact that Brad Cooper still had the notes raised questions about his assertions to Young days earlier that the Coopers were working on their strained marriage.

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.