Defense attacks detective's credibility

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz

March 29, 2011 2:18:46 PM PDT
Brad Cooper's lead defense lawyer got his chance to cross-examine a Cary detective who's been on the witness stand for days Tuesday.

Howard Kurtz immediately went on the offensive, probing Detective Jim Young's credibility. Prosecutors have used Young to present circumstantial evidence linking Cooper to the murder of his wife Nancy.

Her body was discovered not far from her Cary home in 2008. She was reported missing by friends July 12. A man walking his dog found her remains July 14 in an unfinished subdivision. She had been strangled.

Brad Cooper told detectives that Nancy went out for a run the morning of July 12 and never returned. Prosecutors say the couple was in the process of divorcing, and Brad was upset Nancy planned to move back to their native Canada and take their children.

The prosecution has yet to present any physical evidence linking Cooper to his wife's murder. Instead, testimony has focused on the marriage and inconsistencies in Brad's statements to detectives in the days following Nancy's disappearance.

The defense claimed in its opening statement that Cary police conducted an "inept" and "dishonest" investigation that focused on Brad from the beginning when there were other possible suspects.

In his questions Tuesday, Cooper attorney Kurtz asked Detective Young about his testimony regarding Brad Cooper's movements on the day Nancy was reported missing.

"Why is it that your opinion changed between the morning and the afternoon yesterday?" Kurtz asked Young.

Kurtz was using a map of grocery store where Cooper was seen on surveillance video twice the morning of July 12, 2008. Young testified before the lunch break on Monday that Cooper drove in from one direction, but after lunch, he said the opposite.

"You didn't explain that you were changing your testimony, did you?" asked Kurtz

"I believe that I did," Young responded.

Kurtz tried a number of other ways to impeach Young's testimony, like his recollection of what he was told about a dress Nancy Cooper was wearing at a party the night of July 11. Young was asked about the search for the dress at the Cooper home July 12.

"You weren't able to locate a dress of any color?" Kurtz asked.

"No sir, I did not locate a blue or black summer dress," Young responded.

The detective and prosecutors have insinuated that Brad Cooper intentionally misled them about the color of the dress. But during cross-examination, Young reviewed his notes and realized his first answer was wrong.

"I did not locate a dress of any color within the residence," he said.

And then the defense showed jurors a picture taken by Cary police in Nancy Cooper's bedroom the day she was reported missing. The dress can be seen hanging out of the side of a laundry basket the detective searched. He said he thought it was a shirt.

Later Tuesday afternoon, Kurtz did more to try and show Cary police didn't look at all possible suspects.

Young was asked about the results of a STD test that was performed by Nancy Cooper's gynecologist. The defense has said that Nancy was having an affair around the time of her death, and Kurtz asked Young if the test information was important.

"Wouldn't the fact that the victim was having an affair be important in a homicide investigation?" Kurtz asked.

"It would depend on the nature of the homicide being investigated," Young responded.

Next, Kurtz showed Young a picture of the Cooper home taken during a search. A detective is seen in the picture not wearing protection over his shoes and he's carrying a Diet Coke.

Kurtz asked Young if it was appropriate to bring food or drink into a potential crime scene.

"It is if he's thirsty," Young responded.

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