Cooper trial is almost at end

Arguments are set for today

Staff WriterMay 3, 2011 

— For the past seven weeks, jurors in the Brad Cooper murder trial have heard about extramarital trysts among neighbors who often got together for wine, beer and food over backyard grills or board games.

They have heard about a marriage on the rocks, the inner workings of computers, cellphones, routers and other technology. And there has been testimony about bug larvae, soil samples from around Cary, laundry, grocery store trips, preschool events and much more.

Little has been said about weapons or forensic lab tests - fundamentals of an investigation that often take center stage in a murder trial.

This morning, prosecutors and defense attorneys will knit together what they deem key details from the wide-ranging evidence gathered to determine whether Cooper, a 37-year-old former Cisco employee, strangled his wife Nancy to death in July 2008.

Cooper faces the possibility of a life sentence if he is convicted of first-degree murder.

After the closing arguments, Judge Paul Gessner will also instruct the jury that second-degree murder, which does not require evidence of premeditation or intent, is also an option.

The defense will present its final arguments first because Cooper's attorneys chose to introduce evidence during the prosecution's case. Gessner is limiting the arguments for each side to no more than two hours.

The defense attorneys maintain that Cooper is innocent and that Cary police conducted an inept and dishonest investigation that singled their client out early as the prime suspect and ignored details that did not jibe with that scenario.

On Monday, prosecutors called several Cary police officers and a Cisco employee as rebuttal witnesses to testimony offered by defense witnesses over the past week.

Investigators theorize that Brad Cooper killed his wife shortly after midnight on July 12, 2008, and dumped her body that same morning in a wooded, waterlogged area three miles from their home.

Rosemary Zednick, however, testified for the defense that she was 100 percent sure she exchanged hellos with a jogger she thought was Nancy Cooper at 7 a.m. July 12, 2008.

Bolstering defense claims that Cary police failed to thoroughly investigate, Zednick testified that although she called police shortly after learning that Nancy Cooper was reported missing, it was October before someone came to her home to get a complete statement.

But three officers testified Monday about reports they took from Zednick - one in a phone call 12 days after Nancy Cooper's body was found, two others at a roadblock on July 24.

One officer said that during a conversation at the roadblock, Zednick offered her theory that Nancy Cooper was listening to an iPod through headphones while jogging and perhaps was struck by a car speeding through that area. Zednick further theorized that someone might have put Nancy Cooper in a car after such an accident, then panicked and dumped her body at the end of the Fielding Drive site where she was found.

A checked-out router

Prosecutors also introduced evidence about a router that they argue Brad Cooper used early on July 12 to send a call from his home phone to his cellphone to make it look as if Nancy Cooper were alive when she was not.

Such a router was never found in the Cooper home or his office.

But a Cisco employee testified Monday that Brad Cooper checked out two routers in January 2008 and one has not been found since then.

The defense tried again Monday to persuade Judge Gessner to dismiss the case for a lack of evidence. But Gessner said he had heard enough evidence to send the case to the jury. or 919-836-4948

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