Cooper's neighbors testify about affairs


Cooper is charged with first-degree murder in the July, 2008 strangulation death of his wife Nancy whose body was found in an undeveloped subdivision not far from her home. Prosecutors say Brad killed her because he was angry she intended to leave him, take their children, and move to be with her family in Canada.

Ross Tabachow, who lives in the Lochmere subdivision where the Coopers lived, was first on the stand Monday. He said he last spoke with Nancy Cooper at a party the evening of July 11 - the day before she was reported missing - and that they talked about her relationship with Brad.

"Nancy had told me that she was living in a separate bedroom from Brad and that they were headed for divorce," said Tabachow. "The relationship was like a pendulum. Sometimes it was tolerable, but sometimes it swung to hate mode. That night it was in hate mode apparently."

The defense has a continuing objection to witnesses testifying about what Nancy Cooper told them since the defense cannot cross-examine Nancy Cooper. Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner has repeatedly denied those objections and did again Monday. He told members of the jury that they can only use such testimony to establish Nancy's state of mind.

Tabachow said Nancy told him Brad had put her on an allowance and she didn't think it was enough, so she was painting friend's homes to earn money. She said she did not have a green card, so small jobs like that were the only way she could earn extra money.

Tabachow testified Nancy told him Brad had learned about the odd jobs and withheld her allowance and she was upset about that.

Under cross-examination, Tabachow said he did not know much about the Cooper's financial affairs. Cooper's defense maintains Brad put Nancy on a cash budget because she spent too much money and that they had to get a second mortgage on their home and borrow against Brad 401k retirement savings.

Tabachow also talked about the search for Nancy after she disappeared. He said he took part in searches. He said one of those was with Nancy's former friend Heather Metour, who he said he knew had been involved in an affair with Brad Cooper.

"Heather and Nancy had a strained relationship," he said.

Damia Tabachow told the jury that Brad and Nancy had been in counseling but that Nancy "was having a hard time forgiving him." She also said Nancy had learned in counseling sessions that there had been other affairs.

She also testified that when Brad found out how much he would have to pay in child support, he would not agree to separate.

Damia Tabachow said a going away party scheduled for Nancy was cancelled.

On redirect examination, Tabachow said she was reluctant to speak with Brad Cooper after Nancy's disappearance.

"I didn't think there was anyone else who could have possibly killed Nancy," she said.

Neighbor Craig Duncan also testified Monday. Duncan said his wife Diana - who testified last week - told him that Brad Cooper "hit on her" in the kitchen of their home.

Duncan also testified about Cooper's relationship with Heather Metour. He said his wife told him Metour bragged about it at a party. He also said Brad Cooper told a group of men about an affair with another woman on a different occasion.

"Brad quite happily came out and said he f***** the boss's wife," said Duncan.

Under cross-examination, Brad Cooper's lawyer Howard Kurtz went on the offensive - asking Duncan if Brad hit on his wife, why she didn't testify about it when she was on the witness stand last week. Duncan said he didn't know, but reiterated that she told him that.

Kurtz also asked Duncan if he knew that Nancy Cooper had told friends that he had expressed sexual interest in her. Duncan said he did not know about the comments and denied telling Nancy that.

Kurtz also asked Duncan about exclusive ABC11 video in which he was heard to be clapping when police arrested Cooper in October, 2008. Duncan told the court he clapped because he believed Cooper killed his wife.

"I knew it in my heart," said Duncan.

When asked how he knew that, Duncan said it was based on his conversations with Cooper after Nancy went missing.

"I knew he was not acting naturally. He was not looking me in the face," said Duncan.

Cooper has maintained his innocence since his arrest more than three months after his wife's body was found by a man walking his dog. Cooper told authorities Nancy went out for a run July 12 and never returned. Her body was found July 14.

Kurtz told jurors in his opening statement that Cary police decided Cooper was guilty from the beginning and ignored evidence that didn't fit that scenario.

Kurtz acknowledged that Brad Cooper had an affair, but also said Nancy was involved in a relationship with another man. He even raised questions about the paternity of her youngest daughter, who was born eight months and 24 days after Kurtz said Nancy and the man had an encounter.

In her opening statement last Wednesday, prosecutor Amy Fitzhugh told jurors that Cooper made statements to police that were untrue and refused to cooperate before Nancy Cooper's body was found.

The Coopers relocated to Cary from Canada in 2001 when Brad Cooper took a job at Cisco Systems in Morrisville. He studied computer science at the University of Calgary and took graduate business courses at North Carolina State University.

Nancy Cooper's parents now have custody of the couple's two children in Canada.

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