Local News

Prosecutor: Cooper subpoenas 'fishing expedition'

Posted October 14, 2008 12:55 p.m. EDT
Updated October 14, 2008 6:29 p.m. EDT

— A Wake County prosecutor says attempts by Brad Cooper's attorneys to access police evidence in the July 12 slaying of their client's wife is "a fishing expedition" in an attempt to prepare his defense "to a potential criminal charge."

Responding to three subpoenas from Cooper's attorneys for Cary police to turn over all evidence in the murder case, Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings said in a motion to have them thrown out that the request is "not for the purpose of showing his fitness and suitability as a custodial parent of his minor children."

A hearing on the issue is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Cooper, 35, is in the middle of a custody battle with his wife's family over the couple's two young daughters. Garry and Donna Rentz, Nancy Cooper's parents, allege he is an unfit parent and that he had been emotionally abusive to and financially controlling of his wife in the months before she was killed.

A friend reported Nancy Cooper missing on July 12 after she failed to show up for a planned meeting, and a man walking his dog found her body two days later in an undeveloped subdivision three miles from the Coopers' Cary home.

Although police are not calling him a suspect or person of interest in the case, Cooper has denied being involved in his wife's death. He said he last saw her on the morning of July 12 before she left for a jog.

Cooper's attorneys asked police Friday for all evidence relating to the murder case, including notes, personal property, physical evidence, computers and videos. They wanted it by 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Cummings said in his response that turning over the evidence would jeopardize the case and undermine an ongoing investigation. He also said the request did not allow a reasonable time for compliance and that it subjected investigators to an undue burden.

"These subpoenas are otherwise unreasonable and oppressive," Cummings stated in the motion.

On July 16, a judge granted emergency custody of the Coopers' daughters, Bella, 4, and Katie, 2, to Nancy Cooper's family in Canada.

A hearing on temporary custody is scheduled for Thursday, and Wake County District Judge Debra Sasser has said allegations that Cooper was somehow involved with his wife's death would likely have to be addressed if no one is arrested before then.

"We need to have a hearing. We'll hash it out in front of the judge," one of Cooper's attorneys, Seth Blum, said of Cummings' response. "We need to do it as soon as possible."