Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Brad Cooper; North Carolina; Permitted to plead to second-degree murder (lesser offence) as part of plea bargain. (A new trial had been ordered because the trial judge ruled against the defense’s attempt to classify two witnesses as forensics experts to raise questions about key computer evidence). News and Observer;

STORY: "Brad Cooper pleads guilty to second-degree murder; gets at least 12 years in prison, by reporter Anne Blythe, published by The News and Observer on September 22, 2014.

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Brad Cooper, center, stands with attorneys Laura Meyer, left, and Jim Freeman as he pleads guilty in a Wake County Courtroom on Monday to second-degree murder for killing his wife, Nancy Cooper, in 2008. It was a plea bargain after a retrial was ordered recently. He was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison."

GIST: The N.C. Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in April 2013, and the N.C. Supreme Court refused to review the case despite a request from the state attorney general. The evidence in the 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. Gessner, who also presided over the trial in 2011, allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence of a Google Maps 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 at trial, 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 Maps search. “Absent this evidence, the evidence connecting Defendant to this crime was primarily potential motive, opportunity, and testimony of suspicious behavior,” the ruling stated. 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. Since then, Brad Cooper got a new defense team and Freeman, his attorney, talked with prosecutors about plea offerings that had been on the table since 2008."
The entire story can be found at:

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/09/22/4173131_brad-cooper-pleads-guilty-to-second.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

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