More documents filed in Cooper custody battle

September 17, 2008 4:43:17 PM PDT
New documents were filed Wednesday in the custody battle over Nancy and Brad Cooper's children. Since the Cary mother's July murder, her parents, who live in Canada, have had temporary custody of the couple's girls. Now the grandparents want full custody, but Brad Cooper is fighting back.

Cooper wants his in-laws to prove allegations they have made against him, including one that he was physically and emotionally abusive to his wife, Nancy, prior to her death.

Filings coincide with the release of videos showing Cooper at a local grocery store early on the day his wife went missing.

Eyewitness News asked a local legal expert to take a look at the documents and video and to tell us where he thinks the case stands.

The video of Cooper making two trips to a Harris Teeter was released by his attorneys.

While those attorneys are not talking publicly, one of them --Seth Blum-- did tell Eyewitness News that they got the video with a court order. But posting them on their firm's website to show client is unconventional.

Raleigh Attorney Karl Knudsen is a former prosecutor turned defense attorney, so he's seen both sides of high profile cases.

"It is certainly novel. And the only thing that I would say is be careful what you ask for, you might just get it," Knudsen said. "And if you're causing more and more scrutiny that may or may not be a good thing."

He finds the Nancy Cooper murder case unique not only because of its internet interest, but also because it's being tried in a civil not criminal court.

Much of the allegations against Cooper have come from paper testimony by his wife's friends and family testimony filed in the custody battle between him and his wife's parents and sister.

And now Cooper's attorneys plan to interview the parents and sister under oath and require them to show evidence of allegations against him.

Knudsen says that sends a message to the other side.

"Be prepared to bring documentation which obviously would potentially be useful both in this particular action and may be germane to the murder investigation itself," Knudsen said.

As for the investigation, some amateur detectives on one internet site point out that on cooper's two visits to the grocery store within a span of 17 minutes he wore different shoes.

The insinuation is that evidence of a murder might require a shoe change.

"If that's what your theory was you would expect it more likely to be on the clothes and other things than just on the shoes," Knudsen said.

So Knudsen thinks, that all in all Cooper may have made some strides this week in trying to fight off being implicated in his wife's murder even though he hasn't been named a suspect or even person of interest.

But will that change anyone's opinion?

"People are quick to suspect and to accuse and slow to absolve and acquit," Knudsen said.

I also spoke today with Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby here in his office.

He says the tactics being used by Cooper's attorneys seems to be part of a trend of late to try to affect public opinion in high profile cases.


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