Smoking gun in Cooper case?

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz
April 13, 2011 2:40:32 PM PDT
Jurors in the Brad Cooper murder trial were told Wednesday that his laptop computer was used to search Google maps for images of the unfinished subdivision where his wife's body was found.

FBI cybercrimes task force member Chris Chappell said on the witness stand that the search was made at 1:15 p.m. on July 11, 2008. That's the day before Nancy Cooper was reported missing.

"This is from July 11, before Nancy Cooper had gone missing?" asked prosecutor Boz Zellinger.

"Yes, Friday afternoon," Chappell responded.

"The afternoon before Nancy Cooper was reported missing on the defendant’s computer?" Zellinger continued.

"Yes sir," said Chappell.

Chappell said the search included a zoom in on Fielding Drive. Nancy's body was discovered next to a storm water retention pond on that road by a man walking his dog July 14.

"The defendant’s computer had to be zoomed?" Zellinger asked.

"Yes, the map was moved," said Chappell. "We found the zoomed in tiles of Fielding Drive."

"Again, this is 12 hours before she [Nancy Cooper] went missing?" Zellinger asked.

"Yes, July 11," said Chappell.

Nancy Cooper was last seen alive by friends at a neighborhood party the evening of July 11. Cooper told detectives his wife returned late that night. He said she went out for a run around 7 a.m. July 12 and never returned.

Courtroom cameras were turned off for Chappell's testimony. He's one of several law enforcement officers who have had their identity protected by Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner who is presiding over the trial.

During the testimony of several witnesses who examined Cooper's computers, his lawyers have made it clear they believe the equipment was tampered with, but a FBI agent testified he found no evidence of that.

More computer testimony Tuesday.

On Tuesday, jurors heard that Cooper logged into his computer four times between 10 p.m. and Midnight on July 11. He has previously said he was asleep with his daughters at that time - while Nancy was at the party across the street. Police contend Cooper killed her when she returned.

Gregory Johnson, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, also said Cooper was reading his wife's email in the months before she was found murdered. He said Nancy's Time-Warner email account was set to automatically forward a copy of any incoming messages to an email address associated with Brad's adventuresofbrad.com website. That's despite Brad's own testimony in a videotaped deposition in which he told a lawyer that he never used that email account.

Johnson said Nancy's emails included messages to her friends and an attorney helping her prepare a separation agreement.

The agent said he also found an email between Brad and Nancy in which she angrily accused him of having no appreciation of the amount of work she did caring for their two daughters and maintaining the household. She blasted him for not participating in household chores and said his contribution consisted only of cutting the grass and going to work.

Other messages Johnson said he found included a series of emails between Brad Cooper and two other women. One was Heather Metour - a former friend of Nancy's who Brad has admitted to having an affair with. The second is a French woman Brad met in early 2007 while in Paris for an overseas study trip arranged through his MBA program at NC State.

During cross-examination of Johnson, the defense pointed out that at least one of Cooper's computers was left on for 27 hours after it was seized. The laptop was connected to a wireless network the whole time.

Johnson admitted that the computers could have been handled better by Cary police, but denied anything happened to them.

"Did you ever find any evidence of files … being tampered with during your investigation?" asked Prosecutor Boz Zellinger.

"No, I did not," Johnson replied.

Prosecutors allege Brad killed Nancy because he was angry she planned to divorce him and move with their two daughters to Canada. Cooper's lawyers say he is innocent and have characterized the investigation by the Cary Police Department as inept. They say detectives focused on Cooper from the beginning of their investigation and never looked at other suspects. Nancy's family did win custody of the Cooper children. They now live in Canada.

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