Battle continues over key evidence in Cooper case

Brad Cooper listens to evidence with his attorney Howard Kurtz
April 25, 2011 1:59:32 PM PDT
Superior Court Judge Gessner denied a request from Brad Cooper's defense team Monday to add a new computer expert to its witness list.

Lawyers had wanted to call Giovanni Masucci with National Digital Forensics, Inc to talk about a computer seized from Cooper. Defense attorney Howard Kurtz said that information found by a FBI cybercrimes task force member on the computer is the "only substantive evidence" linking Cooper to the murder of his wife Nancy in July 2008.

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. the next morning and never returned. Her body was found by a drainage pond in an unfinished subdivision near her home two days later. She had been strangled.

According to files found on Brad Cooper's computer by the FBI, someone used Google Maps to search for the location Nancy's body was found at 1:15 p.m. on July 11, 2008. That's the day before Nancy was reported missing.

Cooper's defense team has made it clear it believes the computer was tampered with while it was in police custody. But getting evidence of that theory in front of the jury has proved difficult.

Last week, Judge Gessber blocked James Ward of WireGhost Security from testifying as a computer forensics expert, saying he was not qualified. Monday, Gessner blocked the defense from calling Masucci saying he was not on the witness list and prosecutors had not been given adequate time to research his qualifications or the evidence he was to present.

During his testimony earlier in the trial, FBI cybercrimes task force member Chris Chappell told jurors he found no evidence of tampering.

Ward was allowed to testify last week as a computer network security expert. He told the jury that there was a 27-hour period in which Cary police had custody of the computer and its contents were vulnerable. He demonstrated using a video how free software from the internet could be used to manipulated information in the computer, saying Cooper's security system was not sufficient to block a determined hacker.

After Gessner's ruling Monday, testimony for the defense continued with cell phone expert Ben Levitan. A call from Cooper's home to his cell phone July 12 has been presented as defense evidence showing Nancy Cooper was alive at a time investigators contend she was already dead. Prosecutors say Cooper, who worked as a phone expert for Cisco, had the expertise to fake the call.

Heather Metour's ex-husband testifies

Also on the witness stand Monday was Scot Heider - the former husband of Heather Metour and a former neighbor of the Coopers.

Cooper has admitted to having an affair with Metour.

Defense attorney Howard Kurtz asked Heider about the relationship.

"I don't know if you'd call it a relationship," Heider responded.

Heider said he remained friends with Cooper despite the affair and Cooper stayed at his house after Nancy's death.

Heider also called Nancy "a wonderful woman."

Heider was expected to return to the witness stand Tuesday.

Prosecutors rested their case last week. They 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.

Classifieds | Report A Typo |  Send Tip |  Get Alerts | See Click Fix
Follow @abc11 on Twitter  |  Become a fan on Facebook


Load Comments