Brad Cooper appeals murder conviction in wife’s killing

rgallagher@newsobserver.comNovember 7, 2012 

Brad Cooper listens to testimony during his murder trial Wednesday, April 6, 2011, in Raleigh.

COREY LOWENSTEIN - CLOWENST@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Brad Cooper, the Cary man convicted last year of murdering his wife, Nancy, in 2008, has filed an appeal asking for a new trial, claiming that the judge in the case erred in decisions about computer evidence and expert testimony and cost him a fair trial.

Cooper’s attorney, Howard Kurtz, filed the appeal Tuesday. Kurtz and fellow attorney Robert Trenkle had said immediately after Cooper’s conviction in May 2011 that they would appeal.

Cooper is serving a life sentence.

Cary police charged that Brad Cooper strangled Nancy Cooper, whose body was found face-down in a sediment basin in July 2008 on a cul-de-sac in an unfinished subdivision. She was identified several days later through dental records.

Prosecutors argued that Brad Cooper was troubled by his wife’s plans to leave him and move back to their native Canada with their two daughters.

In the appeal, Kurtz argues that the defense was hampered in efforts to present an expert witness to counter prosecution evidence about a Google map search done on Brad Cooper’s computer that focused on the area where Nancy Cooper’s body was found.

The defense attorneys argue that two rulings from Judge Paul Gessner kept them from having experts testify that they determined the map-search files did not originate on Brad Cooper’s computer and had been inserted by someone else.

Gessner, Kurtz says, barred testimony from an expert witness the defense had planned to use, then blocked use of a replacement expert the attorneys found, saying he had not been on a witness list submitted to prosecutors before the trial began.

Kurtz argues that Gessner was wrong to exclude the original computer witness, Jay Ward, based on his credentials. He also says Gessner erred in agreeing to a prosecution motion to keep defense attorneys from getting details and notes about a computer investigation by an FBI interagency Computer Analysis and Response Team.

“The arguments are exceptionally persuasive,” Kurtz wrote in a blog post announcing the appeal on the website for his law firm, Kurtz & Bloom.

The appeal is based on a review of 9,000 pages of transcripts from the trial that lasted for several weeks.

After the trial, the Coopers’ daughters, Bella and Katie, went to Canada to live with Nancy Cooper’s family.

Gallagher 919-829-4572

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