- File Size: 2917 KB
- Print Length: 322 pages
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- Publication Date: October 1, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01625QUUK
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- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Framed: An Examination of the Nancy Cooper Murder Case Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
I am glad the author took on the task of writing this book, and exposing the truth, while it was obvious during the trial that Brad was being railroaded, after reading this book I realize, it was even worse then I thought.
I do hope Lynne will write a book about the Jason Young case, as it went very similar to Brad's, given the gas mileage of his car, and the distances involved, there was no way he could have done this, or would have stopped at the gas station someone said they saw him.
The early chapters focus on the botched investigation by the Cary police department in which evidence was compromised, sometimes never collected and procedures for chain of custody of evidence completely ignored. There are examples of critical evidence destroyed by police, withheld from Brad’s defense so it could not be challenged in court to prove his innocence (for example IP address for Google map file), and witness statements and police reports that were manipulated and altered to suit their case. Witnesses favourable to the defense were often ignored early in the investigation and possible leads pointing to other suspects never followed up on. Perhaps Howard Cummings, the lead prosecutor, summed it up best when questioning Carol Cooper about the supposed missing ducks, “You realize you just made our witnesses look like a bunch of liars?” It is interesting Howard Cummings and his prosecution team condoned the lies and misrepresentations of their witnesses but this was one telling example where he himself brought this up in front of the jury.
As Lynne clearly articulates in her book, this case was never about searching for the truth but rather getting a conviction. The “tunnel vision” was evident from the day Nancy went missing. The police and prosecutors did everything in their power to make “the glove fit” for the indictment and jury even when they knew the evidence was false or misleading. Worse still the judge in this case, Paul Gessner, allowed prejudicial hearsay to dominate the trial so that the jury was unable to really distinguish fact from fiction as the weeks went on. The prosecution team, along with the obvious tacit cooperation of Judge Paul Gessner, denied the defense every opportunity to challenge the evidence presented regarding the map search as will be discussed below.
The only piece of evidence the jury convicted Brad Cooper on was his supposed 42 second search of the area Nancy’s body was found one day before she was reported being missing. If the reader focuses on this chapter in Lynne’s book as well as the chapter on the appeal court’s decision to order a new trial one will clearly see to what ends the judicial system (Cary police, Wake County prosecutors, judge Gessner) went to make a conviction.
Let’s start with the opening statement by prosecutor Amy Fitzhugh. No mention whatsoever was made about the google map which was the key, and only piece, of evidence supposedly linking Brad to Nancy’s murder. If introduced, as any first year law student knows, it would have laid the foundation for all the prejudicial hearsay that was coming. To the readers it is easy to make the conclusion it was left out because the prosecutors knew the map was placed on Brad Cooper’s laptop while unsecured in Cary police custody and its authenticity could easily be refuted by the defense. It was only introduced once the prosecution team recognized the trial was not going as expected and there was no evidence tying Brad Cooper to Nancy’s murder. The prosecution had to play this card, and with Paul Gessner’s biased cooperation, were able to stymy the defense at every turn.
Once the map was introduced, the court denied the defense every opportunity to refute its legitimacy including the processes used for the testing procedures based on “national security”. Expert defense witnesses were denied the ability to testify before the jury. The prosecution was never able to explain the lack of a map search “cookie”, altered files, no browser history for the map search, invalid time stamps, cursor file anomalies, deleted Google watermark and numerous incursions on the laptop while in police custody …. the list goes on. The defense’s expert witnesses (Jay Ward, Giovanni Masucci) were willing to testify the computer was tampered with but Paul Gessner never gave them the opportunity.
Criminal defendants have several rights but the most essential protection is the requirement that the prosecution prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By blocking Howard Kurtz and his defense team from introducing evidence through their expert witnesses Brad Cooper was denied this basic right. In the end, the North Carolina Court of Appeals recognized this travesty of justice and ordered a new trial. The State’s request for a discretionary review by the North Carolina Supreme Court was rejected.
The readers may wonder why Brad Cooper took a plea bargain to second degree murder but given what happened after the appeal court ruling he had no choice. As Lynne mentions in the book, the legal counsel Brad was assigned was clearly not prepared to represent him given Brad was facing the very same judge Paul Gessner who was chastised by the appeal court on his rulings. During the 9 month period from the appeal court ruling and to the plea agreement his assigned defense attorney James Freeman, who was not even on the capital public defender’s list, only met with Brad four times, had not finished reading the trial transcript but worse still never informed Brad about the pending plea agreement. Brad found out about the agreement on the prison television and now had only days to make a decision before going before Paul Gessner. Given the options of getting out in 6 years versus going once again in front of Paul Gessner with a possible life sentence in the balance with his assigned legal representation the choice was easy given the time to go to trial (two years or more). Furthermore, there were no assurances Brad Cooper and his lawyer would have the same resources available to them as were provided in the first trial to prove the map was planted. James Freeman was not as experienced in such cases as were Howard Kurtz or Robert Trenkle, Brad’s original attorneys, who did everything possible to discredit the map and other witnesses despite the obvious bias of the judge (as you will read in the book Howard Kurtz actually asked Paul Gessner to recluse himself because of his bias).
Lynne’s book is a “must read” for the citizens, and particularly the legal community, of Wake County. Everyone should be entitled to a fair hearing before a competent, independent and impartial judge which was certainly not the case in either the custody or criminal proceedings. Unfortunately those responsible for this miscarriage of justice are still players in the Wake County justice system and proving “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” is something these individuals clearly ignored and will likely do so again.
The author goes through in meticulous detail the entire history of identification of suspects, collection of “evidence”, and the presentation of “evidence” that resulted in the conviction of Brad Cooper by a jury of 12 of his peers. After a while the errors and manipulations of this process become readily apparent as Lynne shows how the stories mutate over time into a collection of complete fabricated evidence that bears little resemblance to the original statements gathered. In essence the reader is left with the conclusion that there is NO evidence at all; that the police and prosecution have built this case on nothing substantial, not even circumstantial, but complete fabrications, speculations, and inferences from the information gathered during the investigation. She does an effective job to show that the police never considered any alternate theories during the investigation, and essentially built a case around what they decided from the beginning: that Brad was guilty.
In addition to eviscerating the evidence completely, Lynne goes on to documented the evidence that was not allowed to be presented at trial, and in my opinion even proves that the only evidence that could point to Brad’s guilt, the “smoking gun” I referenced previously, must have be physically planted on the computer. In fact chapter 19 of the book goes into this with excruciating detail. By the conclusion of this chapter I was convinced without a doubt that Brad’s computer was compromised and that the smoking gun evidence presented by the prosecution was completely planted by someone.
This book also points out the many ways that basic protocols for evidence handling during the investigative phase was incompetently executed by the police department and how the Judge ruled against the defense so much so during the trial that the defense was basically crippled. Luckily the appeals court wasn’t as biased as the trial judge that a new trial was ordered, but as the reader you can’t help feeling that Brad was left with no position but to accept a plea agreement in order to avoid being retried represented by a less-than-optimal court-appointed attorney.
In essence, if this book is a true representation of the investigative, prosecutorial and judicial aspects of the justice process in this country then it leaves me as the reader having a complete lack of confidence in the justice process… where a person can convicted with no direct evidence to the crime or even simply prevented from disputing the planted “evidence” at trial due to an arguably biased judge who ruled against the defense at every turn.
If this book had existed prior to the appeal case being heard, perhaps the decision to accept the plea would have been reconsidered by Brad as I believe it is detailed enough that the contents of this book could have been used by a competent attorney to mount an effective defense with preferable an unbiased judge presiding.
On its own, this book should be considered a warning of how the justice process can be manipulated and construed in the favor of any side that has sufficient resources to accomplish this. For those who decided prematurely that Brad Cooper perpetrated this crime I challenge them to go through this book detail by detail and be able to say at the end they are still convinced the evidence points to his guilt, because for me, it doesn’t.
If this is supposed to be a country where a defendent is "innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" then this book demonstrates how the entire system can be corrupted against the defendent and a conviction can be obtained through merely a manipulation of witness statements and speculative evidence. This book should be required reading for anyone considering a career in criminal justice fields.
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