‘There’s closure,’ says victim’s family following Brad Cooper’s guilty plea

WATCH ABOVE: Brad Cooper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his Edmonton-raised wife Nancy. Laurel Gregory reports.

EDMONTON – Former Alberta resident Brad Cooper has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2008 death of his wife Nancy Cooper, who was raised in Edmonton.

In court Monday, Cooper admitted that he killed the 34-year-old mother of two, and dumped her body in a drainage ditch near their home in Cary, North Carolina.

He accepted a plea deal offered by the prosecution rather than continuing to wait for a retrial.

“When we started this process years ago, one of the first things that I said was that I wished the person who was responsible for this crime would come forward and acknowledge guilt and own up to their behaviour,” said Nancy’s father Garry Rentz on Monday.

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“That’s happened today, so I feel very much satisfied that we are now at a spot where there’s closure for something that started all those years ago.”

The plea deal includes a jail term of 12 to 15 years. With time served, it would mean another seven years in prison. As well, deal contains a condition allowing Cooper’s two daughters, aged 10 and 8, to be adopted. The girls have been living with Nancy’s family for several years.

Cooper could also face deportation from the United States, and be banned from re-entry.

The couple was married in Calgary in October 2000. The Coopers moved to North Carolina in November 2001 for work.

Court proceedings laid out how their marriage began to break down in the following years. At the time of her death the couple was having marital problems, and Nancy was seeking a divorce.

She vanished on July 12, 2008. At the time her husband said she went jogging, but never returned.  An intense search was launched, and Nancy’s strangled body was found two days later.

Brad Cooper was convicted of  first-degree murder in 2011. A 2013 appeals court ruling found two witnesses for the defence should have been allowed to testify about computer evidence that may have affected the jury’s verdict.

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During that trial, two forensic computer analysts testified that the day before she was murdered, someone did a Google map search of the location where Nancy Cooper’s body was found. They concluded that the search was done from the office where her husband worked.

The defense attorney had two expert witnesses who believed the Google files had been planted on the laptop, but the state called their credentials into question and the trial court ruled they could not testify.

That decision contributed to the court of appeal’s order of a new trial.

The assistant district attorney for Wake County, Howard Cummings, told Global News that an offer was made to Cooper to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the last trial.