Detective: Cooper purchased plastic drop cloth

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz

March 27, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
Detectives continued to build their case against Brad Cooper Monday.

A Cary police detective testified that Cooper went to a Lowe's home improvement store and purchased a plastic drop cloth the morning before his wife was reported missing.

Detective Jim Young told jurors that a receipt from Cooper's home shows the plastic was purchased with cash around 9:30 a.m. Friday July 11, 2008. Surveillance video from the store showed Cooper making the purchase.

Young said in an interview with police July 13 that Cooper told them he was running late for his job at Cisco Systems that Friday because he helped his wife with their children. He did not mention the purchase.

"That Friday morning he stated that he was leaving his residence and running late to go to his employer," Young testified.

It appears the plastic was never used, because detectives found it unopened in Cooper's garage.

Brad Cooper is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Nancy. Her partially clothed body was found by a man walking his dog in an undeveloped subdivision not far from her home on July 14, 2008 - two days after she was reported missing. She had been strangled. Brad told detectives Nancy went out for a run the morning of July 12 and never returned.

Prosecutors say Cooper killed her because he was angry she intended to leave him, take their children, and move to be with her family in Canada. Much of the initial testimony in the trial dealt with their marital problems. The defense admitted in its opening statement that Brad had an affair, but said the couple was working to reconcile.

The defense has maintained from the beginning that Cary police botched the investigation and focused on Brad when they should have been looking at other suspects. The prosecution has not presented any direct physical evidence linking Cooper to the crime and appears to be building a purely circumstantial case.

Detective Young has testified for several days. Cooper's lawyers have yet to get their chance to cross-examine him.

On the stand Monday, Young was asked many questions by the prosecution about cell phone calls involving Brad and Nancy Friday, July 11 and Saturday July 12. Young testified that Nancy dialed Brad's work phone several times Friday, but records show the call went through to his cell phone instead.

Cooper told detectives that he went to a neighborhood grocery store early the morning of July 12, and when he returned, Nancy sent him back to purchase detergent and juice. Surveillance video from the Harris Teeter was shown to jurors, and prosecutors focused on the fact Cooper was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt that July morning, and that he appeared to change shoes between the trips that were just minutes apart.

Young testified that the first pair of shoes have never been recovered.

The defense says a phone call from the Cooper home to Brad's cell phone that morning shows Nancy was alive, but the prosecution is expected to argue that Cooper was a phone expert, and had the knowledge to fake a call from his home to his cell with his computer. The defense says the necessary equipment to do that was not in the Cooper home.

The defense has also made much of the fact that Cary police managed to erase all data while trying to examine Nancy Cooper's cell phone. On the stand Monday, Detective Young explained that it happened while following exact directions from an AT&T representative about how to gain access to the phone, and he didn't expect the phone to be erased.

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