Brad Cooper wants new trial for wife's murder

Brad Cooper appears in a Wake County courtroom
April 9, 2013 3:15:41 PM PDT
A North Carolina appeals court heard arguments Tuesday on whether a Cary man convicted of strangling his estranged wife in 2008 should get a new trial.

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals heard from lawyers on both sides on whether defense attorneys were thwarted from presenting their best case before Bradley Cooper was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011.

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 later found in a drainage ditch at the end of a cul-de-sac at an unfinished subdivision less than three miles from the couple's home.

During his trial, prosecutors said Brad killed Nancy because he was angry she planned to divorce him and move with their two daughters to Canada.

Witnesses testified the couple argued at a party the night before she disappeared and that both had each had affairs outside their marriage.

A jury later found Brad Cooper guilty of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Cooper's lawyer, Ann Petersen, said Tuesday the trial judge wrongly denied two witnesses who would have testified someone could have remotely tampered with Cooper's computer. Cooper's lawyers said someone planted a map onto the Canadian native's computer showing where Nancy's body was found.

"I think this gave us the chance to explain why he didn't get a fair trial," Petersen said of Tuesday's hearing. "I have no idea how he feels about his chances. I think he's pretty down, you would be too if you lost your wife, your kids and were sitting in jail."

Prosecutors said the map search was performed before she disappeared. However, state attorneys said the judge's decision had little effect because prosecutors had overwhelming evidence Cooper was guilty.

Last year, Cooper's defense lawyers filed an appeal, stating that Cooper, who has been in jail since October 2008 when he was arrested for his wife's murder, was innocent.

The Coopers moved from Alberta, Canada, to Cary in 2001 so Brad Cooper could take a technology-related job at a Research Triangle Park firm.

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