On Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling granting Brad Cooper a new trial in the 2008 murder of his wife.  The state Court of Appeals ruled on September 3rd that Brad Cooper should get a new trial for the strangling death of his wife Nancy Cooper after the original trial judge erred by not allowing a defense witness to tell the jury critical evidence that could have changed their verdict.

Because the appellate ruling was unanimous, the N.C. Supreme Court wasn’t obligated to hear the state’s appeal.  The Attorney General’s Office petitioned the court for a discretionary review, but the court declined without comment.

Brad Cooper, 39, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 and was serving a life sentence.  Cooper’s original televised trial lasted 10 weeks.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said the case “will probably be retried.”

Cooper maintains that his wife, Nancy, went for a jog on the morning of July 12, 2008, and never returned.  Her body was found several days later in a drainage ditch in an undeveloped subdivision a few miles from their home.  The state’s only concrete evidence was a Google Maps search found on Cooper’s computer of the site where the body was ultimately found.  Prosecutors contended that the search was made by Cooper the day before his wife disappeared, but defense attorneys argued that someone tampered with Cooper’s computer while police were searching the house.

Two defense witnesses weren’t allowed to give their expert opinion that someone tampered with the Google Maps files, and the appeals court said the trial judge should have allowed the testimony.

“The Google Map files recovered from the defendant’s laptop were perhaps the most important pieces of evidence admitted in this trial,” the three-judge Court of Appeals panel wrote in its ruling.

Gary Rentz, Nancy Cooper’s father, said “…I can understand why the decision (to uphold the appeals court decision) was made.”

Nancy Cooper’s sister and brother-in-law have custody of the Coopers’ two daughters and are raising them in British Columbia.  Rentz said he hopes that there isn’t a custody fight in the future, “We don’t want any more issues in their lives…”


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