Brad Cooper, the father of two accused of killing his wife and dumping her body near their Cary home, might take a plea deal instead of going to trial again.
The former Cisco employee reportedly has been considering a possible plea to second-degree murder in the 2008 death of Nancy Cooper.
Though plea offers have been on the table since 2008, when Brad Cooper was arrested and charged with killing his wife, the 40-year-old from Canada has maintained that he was not guilty of first-degree murder.
But Cooper is scheduled to be back in Wake County Superior Court on Sept. 22. His former in-laws have alerted media outlets that they plan to come to Raleigh from Canada with hopes of closure in a case that keeps the two Cooper girls, now 8 and 10, in a state of limbo.
Cooper was convicted of first-degree murder in the spring of 2011.
The verdict came after nearly 36 days of testimony with almost 100 witnesses.
The N.C. Court of Appeals Court overturned the verdict in April 2013 and the N.C. Supreme Court refused to review the case despite a request from the N.C. Attorney General.
The decision by the state’s highest court was published in January, setting the stage for a possible retrial.
The evidence in the Cooper case was largely circumstantial. Jurors said afterward that prosecutors won with computer evidence that defense lawyers tried to quash.
The defense argued that the police investigation of Nancy Cooper’s death in July 2008 was inept. They had hoped to argue before the jury that the crucial computer evidence could have been tampered with and perhaps planted by investigators – arguments that they planned to introduce through their own expert witnesses.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence of a Google Map search of the site where Nancy Cooper’s body had been found. Prosecutors argued that the map search and time stamps associated with it showed that Brad Cooper had searched for a site to dump his wife’s body.
The defense team, however, raised questions about the validity of the time stamps on the laptop files.
Gessner ruled against the defense’s attempt to classify two witnesses as forensics experts to raise questions about the computer evidence.
The appeals court judges noted that the “sole physical evidence linking” Brad Cooper to the homicide was the Google Map search. “Absent this evidence, the evidence connecting Defendant to this crime was primarily potential motive, opportunity, and testimony of suspicious behavior,” the ruling said.
Further, the appeals court panel added that “whether the error was constitutional or not,” failure to let Brad Cooper use his experts was a key error that warranted a new trial.
“(T)here is a reasonable possibility that, had the error in question not been committed, a different result would have been reached at the trial out of which the appeal arises,” the ruling stated.
Cooper told Cary investigators that his wife went jogging and never returned home.
The murder trial in spring 2011 has been described by Wake County court officials as one of the county’s longest.
For several weeks, prosecutors called numerous friends and family of Nancy Cooper to testify to the crumbling relationship between her and her husband.
Nancy Cooper, the more outspoken of the two, had told many people that she wanted out of her marriage and planned to return to her native Canada with their two children.
Friends described Nancy Cooper as an emotionally battered wife, a former career woman in Canada who had to rely on her husband for her financial well-being because she did not have the necessary documents to work in this country. Friends testified that her husband gave her an allowance but cut off her access to the couple’s bank accounts.
Defense attorneys contended that Nancy Cooper spent beyond the family’s means and that her husband instituted financial controls to protect their assets.