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Jury selection begins in Brad Cooper murder trial

Brad Cooper, 37, is standing trial for first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of Nancy Cooper, 34.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Bradley Graham Cooper, the Cary man accused of killing his wife, Nancy Cooper, nearly three years ago and dumping her body in an undeveloped subdivision not far from their home.

It is expected to take about a week before opening statements begin in what is expected to be a lengthy trial. The state is not seeking the death penalty.

Brad Cooper, 37, was arrested Oct. 27, 2008, following months of police work and a high-profile child custody battle that captured news headlines across the United States and Canada and also provided a glimpse of the couple’s troubled marriage in the months leading up to Nancy Cooper’s death.

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Brad Cooper told police that his wife went jogging around 7 a.m. on July 12, 2008, but never returned home.

It was a friend of Nancy Cooper’s who called 911 that same day to report her missing, which set off a massive search for the 34-year-old mother of two.

Hundreds of volunteers posted fliers around the town and helped police search jogging paths and areas that Nancy Cooper, who was training for a half-marathon, frequented.

Two days later, on July 14, 2008, a man walking his dog just outside Cary’s town limits found her body near a cul-de-sac in what would become the Oaks at Meadowridge subdivision, three miles from the Coopers’ home in Cary’s prominent Lochmere neighborhood.

According to a medical examiner’s report, Nancy Cooper was likely strangled.

Over the next few months, Cary police kept quiet about the investigation, but details of the couple’s family life poured out into the news media and on the Internet as Nancy Cooper’s parents and sister in Canada successfully sought custody of the couple’s two young daughters.

In hundreds of pages of civil court filings, witnesses described Brad Cooper as an emotionally abusive and controlling husband.

The couple had been going through a divorce, and some friends and family of Nancy Cooper asserted their beliefs that her husband was involved in her death.

Brad Cooper’s team of attorneys sought to defend their client against the allegations, challenging witness statements and providing their own witnesses, including a woman who said she saw Nancy Cooper jogging the morning she disappeared.

On July 18, 2008, days after Nancy Cooper’s death, Brad Cooper's attorneys defended him in a news conference 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, they posted surveillance videos from an early-morning shopping trip on July 12, copies of receipts and photos of their client in an effort to dispute the allegations of Nancy Cooper's family and friends.

In October 2008, Brad Cooper was deposed for more than seven hours in the custody case, during which, a Cary police detective states in an affidavit, some of Brad Cooper’s statements were inconsistent with what he told investigators after his wife’s disappearance.

About three weeks later, Brad Cooper was indicted on a first-degree murder charge, and he has been awaiting trial ever since.

The trial was expected to start in October but was delayed because more time was needed for the prosecution and defense to share evidence.

Earlier this month, in what observers have called a rare legal move, defense attorneys unsuccessfully asked the North Carolina Court of Appeals for another trial delay, citing concerns that they were not getting all the evidence from the state.

Prosecutors contend they have turned over all discovery and have said they will continue to do so if additional evidence becomes available.

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