Albertan Brad Cooper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Edmonton-born Nancy Cooper, in a North Carolina courtroom Monday morning.
In July 2008, Nancy Cooper’s body was found dumped in a drainage ditch at a construction site near the Raleigh suburb of Cary, N.C. where the couple lived. Investigators later found she had been strangled.
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Cooper, who is from Medicine Hat, originally stood trial for his wife’s murder in 2011. At that time, the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
During that trial, prosecution witnesses testified that Google maps of the area where the body was dumped were found on Brad Cooper’s computer.
Until Monday, Cooper consistently maintained his innocence in his wife’s murder – a lie he admitted to as part of a plea deal reportedly put together earlier this month.
He was sentenced to spend the next six years and two months in prison, in addition to the six he has already spent behind bars. When he is released, he may be extradited back to Canada.
Escalating pattern of abuse
Speaking in court, District Attorney Howard Cummings said that Cooper’s actions were suspicious from the outset.
“There are memorial services, and he doesn't go to any of those. He never called 911 to report her missing. Never once called her parents to say anything,” he said.
“That's an indication of his own guilt in this. And that's why you don't ask questions – because you know what the answer is.”
Cooper’s lawyer did not dispute any of the facts read aloud in the courtroom.
The court heard that Nancy Cooper was the victim of escalating psychological and emotional domestic violence before her death.
Worried about the financial loss he’d take if the marriage ended, Brad Cooper was withholding money from his wife and was also monitoring her emails and phone calls, Cummings said.
Cooper also admitted that he had been having an affair.
Cummings said Nancy Cooper had taken to sleeping in a separate, locked bedroom in the days leading up to her murder.
Childrens’ custody part of plea deal
While many said today’s verdict brought them closure, Nancy Cooper’s mother said there were still questions unanswered.
[“I think it would have been nice to hear him say himself what he did and why he did it,” said Donna Rentz.
Brad Cooper was given a one-year sentence reduction for agreeing to give up custody of his daughters to their mother’s twin sister in Canada – a deal the judge called “repulsive.”
Cummings, however, said he was not surprised by the move.
“Based on what I know about Brad Cooper, he neither loved his kids or his wife.”
However Rentz said the verdict will allow the couple’s daughters “to move on with their lives with the knowledge and certainty of what their father did to their mother.”
Cooper’s only request was that he be given his computers and cell phone back – a request the judge refused.
Follow @cbcjanjohnston for live updates from Raleigh.