Plea spares Nancy Cooper’s family another trial

On that July day in 2008, Nancy Cooper went jogging near her Cary home and never came back, her husband said. That was Brad Cooper’s story until Monday, when he pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received a 12-year prison sentence.

Cooper, now 40, was convicted of murder in 2011, but the N.C. Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in 2013, noting that the failure to allow Cooper’s expert witnesses on computer evidence was an error.

Prosecutors have continued to vehemently pursue a resolution, one certainly needed by Nancy Cooper’s family members, who have suffered greatly without an end in sight.

Cooper’s case exposed a marriage in trouble, a wife desperately unhappy and talking about taking her two daughters, now 8 and 10, back to her home in Canada. The grief on the faces of Nancy Cooper’s family was heart-breaking.

Brad Cooper, a former Cisco employee, maintained from the day he was arrested that he did not kill his wife, whose body was found not far from their home. Prosecutors said she had been strangled.

The trial became something of a sensation, as The News & Observer reported on evidence that neighbors engaged in soap opera sorts of relationships.

Through it all, photographs of a young, vibrant Nancy Cooper appeared frequently in print and on television. Brad Cooper did not come across as a sympathetic defendant.

Now, at last, the truth is out and the sentence done. Brad Cooper will be credited with the five years he already served so he still will be young when he gets out of prison.

Is that fair? The question is open to debate. But at least Nancy Cooper’s family has the peace of resolution.