Cary police, Cooper defense team speak

Brad Cooper's mugshot from Central Prison
May 5, 2011 9:00:00 PM PDT
Now that the Brad Cooper trial is over, the Cary Police Department is responding to critics, Nancy Cooper's friend defends the murdered woman and the Brad Cooper defense team says the cards were stacked against their client.

Cary Police Chief Pat Bazemore says while mistakes were made, she vehemently denies framing Brad Cooper.

During the murder trial, his attorneys hammered Cary police. The first issue was deleting all the information on Nancy's cell phone. Although the defense claimed it was intentional, Bazemore says it was unintentional.

"Mistakes?" Bazemore asked. "Yes. Intentional misconduct? No. Dishonesty? No. So that was very difficult to listen to day in and day out, but we knew."

And what about the impression that the Town of Cary made the case personal, hosting news briefings, escorting Nancy family and sometimes acting at their mouthpiece.

"They're all personal for us," Bazemore said. "It's our job; it's what we do every day. When it's a crime against a person, it's even more personal."

The Chief says neither she nor Cary have anything to apologize for in the handling of the case and Nancy's family. And as for what she termed "mistakes" made by investigators, they will learn from those.

Friday Cary residents who were friends with Nancy are trying to reach the next stage of grieving.

"It's a little surreal to be sitting back here with it empty," said Hannah Prichard, Nancy's friend.

Prichard returned to the courthouse Friday. She and Nancy's parents and sister were there to say thank you and goodbye to prosecutors and staffers.

Prichard says she didn't mind being stereotyped by the defense as being part of the "pretty, popular and affluent" Cary clique, but she did mind seeing Nancy disparaged.

"To see her portrayed in a light that was so different from the person that she was, was really hard," Prichard said. "But all of us who knew and loved her knew all along that none of it was real or mattered."

When the verdict came down, Brad and his lead attorney Howard Kurtz stared straight ahead. Kurtz didn't seem to blink.

Maybe it's because despite seeming confident throughout the trial, he wasn't surprised things turned against Brad.

"We'd seen some indications from some of the jurors that we felt were those that were supporting us that they were starting to fall apart," Kurtz said.

He says it became clear early on in the defense's case that they would be hamstrung trying to show that the most damning piece of evidence was planted on Brad's computer.

It was the Google map that showed the place Nancy's body was found -- a map police say Brad looked at the day before his wife went missing. A defense expert was prepared to say the map was planted on the computer.

However, the judge ruled the witness was not an expert and couldn't testify about evidence of tampering.

"That is a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence against us if it goes untested, and we weren't given that opportunity," Kurtz said.

He says that will be one basis of Brad's appeal. And for the record, he says it wasn't just Cary police that might have created that filed. It could have been a wireless hacker or someone at Cisco where Cooper worked.

As for the files on Nancy's Blackberry, Kurtz says "I believe that the Blackberry was intentionally deleted. That was not the result of somebody that didn't know how to deal with evidence. It was the result of somebody who was eliminating evidence."

Kurtz, who calls himself a techie, says the courts are going to have to become more tech savvy, finding specialist judges like they do for business court.

The most interesting high-tech point Kurtz said about the trial is that his team monitored in real-time those who were watching the trial online and posting comments.

He says they sometimes adjusted their strategy based on those comments just like lawyers who have hired focus groups to watch court proceedings.

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