Local News

Witness says she saw Nancy Cooper jogging

Posted October 15, 2008 2:19 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2008 7:45 p.m. EDT

— About an hour before a judge quashed a subpoena from Brad Cooper's attorneys for all evidence collected in Nancy Cooper's murder investigation, his attorneys filed an affidavit Wednesday from a woman who says she saw the slain Cary mother the morning she disappeared.

In the Oct. 9 document, Rosemary Zednick says she was walking her dog at about 7:10 a.m. on July 12 when she saw Nancy Cooper, 34, running along a bicycle path on Lochmere Drive toward Kildaire Farm Road.

Zednick says they made eye contact and spoke to each other.

"I said, 'Hi.' She turned her head and said 'Hi' back to me," Zednick said. "We were almost close enough to touch."

Zednick also says that on at least three occasions she told police about seeing Nancy Cooper but that no one has followed up with her. She said she finally contacted Brad Cooper's attorneys and that their investigator interviewed her.

Cary police Chief Pat Bazemore declined to comment on the affidavit but urged anyone with information about the murder case to contact police.

"The civil custody matter and our investigation into Nancy's murder are two separate issues," she said.

Brad 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 who was emotionally abusive to and financially controlling of his wife in the months before she was killed.

In July, a judge granted them emergency custody of the children until a temporary custody hearing scheduled for Thursday.

Although police have not called Brad Cooper a suspect or person of interest in his wife's slaying, Judge Debra Sasser has said allegations that he somehow could be involved would likely be part of the temporary custody hearing, if no one is arrested before then.

His attorneys on Friday subpoenaed Cary police Det. George Daniels for all evidence relating to the murder case, including notes, personal property, physical evidence, computers and videos.

Brad Cooper's attorney, Howard Kurtz, told Sasser Wednesday that he needed the information to explore why Daniels stated in an affidavit last week that his client's statements in a videotaped deposition were inconsistent with police interviews.

But Sasser quashed the subpoena, saying it is not appropriate to turn over such materials until someone is charged.

"I want everybody to remember this is a temporary custody hearing," she said, adding that the hearing doesn't need to prove Brad Cooper acted inconsistently with parental rights but needs to decide whether temporary custody is appropriate.

Daniels can be questioned at Thursday's hearing, she said.

"It's almost impossible to really cross-examine someone without the information that they have," Kurtz said. "But we will certainly do our best."

Wake County Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings, in a motion Tuesday, called the request "a fishing expedition" in an attempt to prepare Brad Cooper's defense "to a potential criminal charge."

Brad Cooper has said his wife went jogging at about 7 a.m. July 12 and never returned. A friend reported her missing when she failed to show for an appointment.

Nancy Cooper's family has said in court documents that they do not think she ever went jogging that day.

A man walking his dog found her body in an undeveloped subdivision about three miles from the Coopers' home in Cary's Lochmere neighborhood. An autopsy found she was likely strangled.

"I think the judge has spent just an enormous amount of time and great care in making a decision in everybody's best interest," Garry Rentz said. "I’m very impressed with the resources the state has put into this matter and the care with which it has been taken."