Cooper defense attacks evidence

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz
April 14, 2011 9:44:16 AM PDT
Brad Cooper's defense team hammered back at some of the most damning evidence against him Thursday.

Cooper is charged with murdering his wife Nancy in 2008. Her body was found dumped in an unfinished subdivision not far from her Cary home two days after Cooper said she went out for a run and never returned.

While Nancy disappeared July 12, Chris Chappell - a Durham detective who works with the FBI cybercrimes task force - told jurors on Wednesday that he found a Google maps search on Brad Cooper's work computer for the location the body was found done July 11 - 12 hours before Nancy went missing.

Cross-examining Chappell on Thursday, the defense tried to bolster its claim that Cooper's computers were not properly held in evidence and that they could have been tampered with.

The back and forth between Chappell and Cooper lawyer Howard Kurtz was technical at times. Kurtz appeared to be trying to get Chappell to admit the Google search could have been done July 16 - after Cooper's computers were already in police custody.

"You didn't know if was performed the same way on July 11th or July 16th - whenever it was?" Kurtz asked.

The prosecution objected to the question.

Kurtz then asked if detectives attempted to corroborate the date the search was done by contacting Google directly.

"At no time did anybody seek a court order to get that information?" Kurtz asked.

"I never personally sought anything. I can't speak for anybody else," Chappell replied.

Apparently frustrated by the line of questioning, Chappell at one point said, "The fact remains the content was on the computer."

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.

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 and went out for a run around 7 a.m. the next morning.

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.

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