Cooper alibi under fire

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz
April 6, 2011 4:43:08 PM PDT
An alibi Brad Cooper gave detectives after his wife went missing came under fire in testimony at his murder trial Wednesday.

Cooper is accused of killing his wife Nancy in 2008. Her body was discovered next to a storm water retention pond in an unfinished Cary subdivision July 14 - two days after she was reported missing. An autopsy showed she was strangled. Prosecutors say Brad killed Nancy because he was angry she planned to divorce him and move with their two daughters to Canada.

While prosecutors maintain the murder happened after the Coopers returned from a neighborhood party July 11, Cooper told detectives his wife went out for a run the morning of July 12 and never returned. He also told investigators he went to a grocery store earlier July 12 and Nancy called him on his cell phone from their home phone to tell him to go back and pick up other items they needed.

The prosecution has said that Brad - who worked for Cisco as an internet phone system expert - had the knowledge to fake a phone call from his home to his cell phone the morning of the day Nancy was reported missing in an attempt to make it look like she was still alive.

On the witness stand Wednesday, Cisco employee Paul Girault testified about internet phone systems and the equipment that Brad would have needed to make such a phone call.

Search warrants show the necessary equipment to make a fake call was not found in the Cooper home. But the prosecution showed Girault a copy of a Cisco internal purchase request that shows Brad ordered a "FXO port," which Girault said would have made a bogus call possible.

Defense lawyers pointed out that even though there may be evidence Cooper used such equipment at work, there's no evidence he brought it home. Girault testified that Cisco employees are allowed to bring equipment home and there is no system for keeping track of that.

Girault said the equipment Brad ordered could be set up to automatically dial a number on a timer, or it could be accessed by any device that had internet access to make the call.

Girault said his testing showed the type of equipment Cooper ordered would have made a call with a 22-second duration before the router automatically hung up. Call logs show a 6:05 a.m. phone call to Brad's cell phone the morning she went missing lasted 23 seconds.

Under cross-examination Cooper's lawyers pointed out that a phone call at 6:40 - which is Brad's alibi - lasted longer.

Girault also testified about several other systems Cooper had access to that could have been used to make a phone call remotely. He said that Cooper had a system in his home that also gave him full access to computer equipment in his office.

More allegations of infidelity

Also Wednesday, a man who took classes at NC State with Brad Cooper testified that it appeared he "got with" a woman while on a trip to France the year before his wife was found murdered.

Joseph D'Antoni was in the same MBA program with Cooper and said their class went to Paris for training in 2007.

D'Antoni told jurors he noticed Brad stopped wearing his wedding ring on the trip. He also said he appeared to be close with a French woman also in the MBA program he identified at Celine Bousaun.

"They were holding hands and were kind of leaning on each other," D'Antoni testified.

Pictures were also shown to jurors of Bousaun and Brad Cooper together on the trip. D'Antoni said Brad posted the photos on his "adventuresofbrad.com" personal blog website.

D'Antoni said he never saw the woman spend the night in Brad's dorm room in Paris. On cross-examination, Cooper defense lawyer Howard Kurtz asked: "You never saw them so much as kiss did you?"

"No," responded D'Antoni.

There have been multiple allegations that Brad Cooper had affairs during his trial. The defense has acknowledged only one of those liaisons, and accused Nancy of also having sex outside of the marriage.

Nancy's Lawyer Testifies

Also on the witness stand Wednesday, a lawyer who worked with Nancy to prepare a separation agreement testified. Under North Carolina law, couples have to be separated for a year before they can file for divorce.

"They were not able to reach an agreement," said Alice Stubbs.

Prosecutor Amy Fitzhugh asked if - because the negotiations stalled - it appeared the couple planned to try to work things out.

"Did she ever mention that she wanted to reconcile with the defendant?" asked Fitzhugh.

"No," Stubbs replied.

Stubbs was asked about Nancy's state of mind during the months before her death. The lawyer testified that Nancy was frustrated that the separation wasn't moving forward and because she didn't have any money and couldn't leave the country because Brad had taken her passport.

She also talked about concerns that Brad might be able to hear their conversations.

"She indicated that he was very savvy with technology," said Stubbs. "And he had put something on the phone that enabled him to listen in."

Stubbs also read an email Nancy Cooper sent her in which she expressed frustration that Brad appeared to be trying to gain custody of their daughters by changing his behavior.

"He has clearly been given advice by his lawyer to start being a good dad," Nancy wrote. "It doesn't seem right that he can put on this little show and be forgiven for the past four years."

On cross-examination, Stubbs testified that Nancy never told her about any physical abuse.

But in follow-up questions from the prosecution, Stubbs said Nancy told her about other abuse.

"She indicated he was mentally abusive and cruel," said Stubbs.

Coopers lawyers say he is innocent and have characterized the investigation by the Cary Police Department at inept. They say detectives focused on Cooper from the beginning of their investigation and never looked at other suspects.

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