Nancy Cooper

Trial focuses on evidence seized from Cooper home

Posted March 22, 2011 2:25 p.m. EDT
Updated March 23, 2011 1:31 p.m. EDT

— A crime scene investigator testified Tuesday morning that he tested several items inside the home of Brad and Nancy Cooper for blood but that the tests were negative.

Thomas Como, an agent for the City-County Bureau of Identification, which processes evidence at crime scenes in Wake County, said during his testimony that streaks on the floor of the garage, red spots on a bed sheet in the master bedroom and on floors and countertops in an upstairs bathroom all were tested but showed no indication of blood.

Prosecutors, however, haven't said how the evidence could be relevant to the case.

Brad Cooper, 37, is accused of first-degree murder in the July 12, 2008, death of his wife. Two days later, her body was found in a drainage ditch outside Cary's town limit, about 3 miles from the couple's home. An autopsy found she had likely been strangled.

The type of questioning in Tuesday's testimony is typical in murder trials to show how law enforcement collected, preserved and stored evidence. The testimony isn't necessarily meant to draw conclusions about how the items might be connected in the case.

Como also found a men's extra-large white, pullover Nike shirt on a staircase railing in the Cooper home, he said. The shirt had what appeared to be three small rust-color stains on the front left side of the collar and some light tearing in the fibers of the chest that he characterized as stress marks.

Among other items seized from the Cooper home were soil samples from beneath a shoe rack in the laundry room, a black sports bra and red woman's shirt found on the dining room table, two car seat covers from the garage, hairs from a staircase and a pink oval rug.

From Brad Cooper's BMW, investigators found a brown substance on the driver-side door handle that came back negative as blood. Inside the trunk, they observed vacuum streaks in the carpet and also found hair on the interior trunk lid.

There were no smells of gasoline in the trunk, and it was "extremely clean," Cary police investigator James Grier testified.

On Monday, Nancy Cooper's mother, Donna Rentz, testified that her daughter never expressed to her that she was afraid of Brad Cooper but that she was distraught in the marriage over finances and an extramarital affair he admitted having.

Defense attorneys did not cross-examine Rentz, when given the chance, Tuesday morning.