Police call played for jury in Cooper trial

Nancy Cooper's friend Jessica Adam testifies. It was Adam who first called Cary police to report Nancy missing.

March 15, 2011 12:28:41 PM PDT
A jury heard the phone call that came in to police the day Nancy Cooper was reported missing on July 12, 2008 in court Tuesday.

It was not Nancy's husband Brad who made the call, but her friend Jessica Adam - who testified about the call after it was played for jurors.

Adam told police that she had spoken to Brad, and he told her Nancy had gone out for a run at 7 a.m. and had not returned.

"It doesn't make any sense," Adam is heard to say in the call.

Adam said that Brad told her Nancy planned to run with friend, but she was expecting her to come to her house to work on a painting project.

"Assuming the husband it telling the truth," said Adam.

Adam told police the circumstances were suspicious and related that there was tension between Brad and Nancy. Police asked if Brad had ever physically hurt Nancy. Adam told them she wasn't aware of any abuse, but that she "wouldn't be surprised" if he hurt her.

Brad Cooper is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nancy, whose partially clothed body was found by a man walking his dog in an undeveloped subdivision not far from her home two days after she was reported missing. She had been strangled. Prosecutors say Brad killed her because he was angry she intended to leave him, take their children, and move to be with her family in Canada.

After Adam's call to police, officers were sent to the Cooper home to speak with Brad and an investigation began.

Cooper's defense attorneys have said that Adam's call convinced police that Brad was guilty and investigators ignored any evidence that didn't fit that scenario. They've suggested someone else killed Nancy.

In her testimony Tuesday, Adam said that Nancy never took off a diamond necklace that she loved and that she was seen wearing it the night before she went missing. According to search warrants, police found the necklace in the Cooper home after her death. Prosecutors also showed her pictures of the inside of the Cooper home. She said some decorative items near the front door were missing.

Second on the stand Tuesday was Nancy's running partner Carey Clark. She testified that she and Nancy always met to run at a coffee shop and that they never ran directly from Nancy's home. Nancy's car was left at her home the day she went missing. Clark also said she and Nancy did not have plans to run that morning because Nancy planned to paint at another friend's house. Clark said Nancy did not run alone.

In three days of testimony, prosecutors have yet to present any physical evidence tying Cooper to the crime. Instead, friends and neighbors have testified about what Nancy told them about her marriage before she died and about Brad's behavior after she went missing.

The defense has a continuing objection to witnesses testifying about what Nancy Cooper told them since the defense cannot cross-examine Nancy Cooper. Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner has repeatedly denied those objections. He has told members of the jury that they can only use such testimony to establish Nancy's state of mind.

Testimony Monday dealt heavily with Brad's sex life. Ross Tabachow, who lives in the Lochmere subdivision where the Coopers lived, told jurors he knew of an affair involving Brad and Nancy's former best friend Heather Metour.

"Heather and Nancy had a strained relationship," he said.

Ross's wife Damia Tabachow told the jury that Brad and Nancy had been in counseling but that Nancy "was having a hard time forgiving him." She also said Nancy had learned in counseling sessions that there had been other affairs.

Neighbor Craig Duncan also testified Monday. Duncan said his wife Diana - who testified last week - told him that Brad Cooper "hit on her" in the kitchen of their home.

Duncan also testified about Cooper's relationship with Metour. He said his wife told him Metour bragged about it at a party. He also said Brad Cooper told a group of men about an affair with another woman on a different occasion.

"Brad quite happily came out and said he f***** the boss's wife," said Duncan.

Under cross-examination, Brad Cooper's lawyer Howard Kurtz went on the offensive - asking Duncan that if Brad hit on his wife, why she didn't testify about it when she was on the witness stand last week. Duncan said he didn't know, but reiterated that she told him that.

Kurtz also asked Duncan if he knew that Nancy Cooper had told friends that he had expressed sexual interest in her. Duncan said he did not know about the comments and denied telling Nancy that.

Kurtz acknowledged that Brad Cooper had an affair in his opening statement, but also said Nancy was involved in a relationship with another man. He even raised questions about the paternity of her youngest daughter, who was born eight months and 24 days after Kurtz said Nancy and the man had an encounter.

In her opening statement last Wednesday, prosecutor Amy Fitzhugh told jurors that Cooper made statements to police that were untrue and refused to cooperate before Nancy Cooper's body was found.

The Coopers relocated to Cary from Canada in 2001 when Brad Cooper took a job at Cisco Systems in Morrisville. He studied computer science at the University of Calgary and took graduate business courses at North Carolina State University.

Nancy Cooper's parents now have custody of the couple's two children in Canada.

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