Jurors find Brad Cooper guilty

Brad Cooper appears in a Wake County courtroom
May 6, 2011 10:19:03 AM PDT
After sifting through eight weeks of evidence, a jury has found Bradley Graham Cooper guilty of first-degree murder.

Cooper showed little reaction as the verdict was read.

Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner immediately sentenced him to life in prison without parole. Cooper has been in jail since October 2008, when he was charged with murdering his wife.

Nancy Cooper, 34, disappeared on July 12, 2008. Her husband said she went out for a jog and never returned. Her body - clad only in a sports bra - was found in an unfinished Cary subdivision less than three miles from the couple's home.

Prosecutors said Brad killed Nancy because he was angry she planned to divorce him and move with their two daughters to Canada.

But Cooper's lawyers said he was innocent and characterized the investigation by the Cary Police Department as inept. They said detectives focused on Cooper from the beginning of their investigation and never looked at other suspects.

"They considered rumors, gossip, and hearsay as fact," charged defense attorney Howard Kurtz. "Justice was sacrificed on the altar of vengeance."

Cooper's attorneys released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the verdict, stating they had a strong case for Brad's innocence.

"We are disappointed at the jury's verdict, and believed the case for their client's innocence was strong. We feel that, had the jury been permitted to hear the testimony of our computer experts, the verdict likely would have been different. It is our belief that the appellate issues are strong and we hope to have another chance to exonerate our client in the future."

Prosecutors said Cooper planned his wife's death in advance, citing an analysis of Cooper's home computer that shows someone viewed a Google Earth map of the site where his wife's body was found the day before she disappeared.

In the end, the jury sided with the prosecutions version of what happened.

Nancy's father Gary Rentz spoke with reporters right after the verdict.

"We're pleased with the jury's hard work and their effort," he said.

He described the eight-week-long trial as an emotional roller coaster ride.

"We're going to go home and pick our lives back up," he said.

The Coopers were newlyweds when they moved to Cary from Alberta, Canada, in 2001 for Brad Cooper to take a job at a high-tech firm in Research Triangle Park. The couple had two daughters while living in North Carolina. Bella and Katie Cooper have been living in Canada with Nancy Cooper's relatives since shortly after their mother disappeared.

Rentz described the case as a double tragedy.

"Two young lives wasted," he said - referring to Nancy's death and Brad spending the rest of his life in prison.

The Town of Cary quickly issued a statement after the verdict saying despite allegations of ineptitude by the defense, its officers have been vindicated.

"With today’s verdict and despite the very public and hurtful allegations to the contrary, it’s clear that they are exemplary, and Cary is served by the best," said Town Manager Benjamin T. Shivar.

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