The defense in the murder trial of a Cary man say botched police tactics and pressure to solve the case led police to conduct an inadequate investigation into the disappearance and death of Nancy Cooper.
In Thursday's opening statement, attorney Howard Kurtz outlined several factors he said should cast serious doubt on Brad Graham Cooper's guilt in his wife's death.
"The evidence will show the police work in this case was dishonest," Kurtz said. "You will see from evidence presented in this case that it’s the kind of police work that will lead to an innocent man being accused of a crime he did not commit while a real criminal goes free."
Kurtz added, "It's a frightening prospect and the evidence is going to show that that is exactly what happened here."
Kurtz argued police violated the most basic rule in crime investigation by prematurely deciding Brad Cooper was guilty and then gathering evidence to back up that belief.
"The Cary Police Department had decided Brad Cooper killed his wife before completing any investigation and they’ve completely ignored evidence, which could have led them to the real killers which are still out there," Kurtz said. "Police ignored footprints around Nancy’s body and they ignored tire tracks that led up to her body. They waited a year before requesting DNA testing of the cigarette butt found within a few feet of Nancy Cooper's body."
In addition, Kurtz cited lost cell phone data, poor forensics and the failure to consider other individuals involved with Nancy Cooper as potential suspects.
Wednesday, prosecutors wrapped up their initial presentation saying Brad Cooper killed Nancy Cooper in anger over her intention to leave him and take the children.
Brad Cooper was charged in October 2008 with the death of his wife, whose partially clad body was discovered in July 2008 in a pool of water at a construction site near the couple's home. Her husband told police she went jogging on July 12 and never returned.
Kurtz alleges police ignored 16 witnesses who say they saw Nancy Cooper jogging the Saturday that she disappeared.
"[Police] specifically ignored Curtis Hodges," Kutz said. "Curtis Hodges is a man who says he is positive he saw Nancy running Saturday morning and saw a van with two men inside turn around to follow behind her. They ignored that for 2 months."
Kurtz added, "But the police did not avoid the cameras while they were out telling people that nobody had seen Nancy that morning, even after [police] knew that was not true."
Thursday the prosecution's first witness testified, telling the jury how he found Nancy Cooper’s body while walking his dog in an undeveloped, wooded area behind the Oaks at Meadow Ridge subdivision.
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.
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