- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) - A man awaiting a new trial in the death of his wife six years ago pleaded guilty Monday to lesser charges.

Multiple media outlets reported that Brad Cooper, 40, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Cooper responded “yes” when Superior Court Judge Paul Gessner asked him if he killed Nancy Cooper in 2008 and dumped her body near their home in Cary, near Raleigh. The Canadian couple had moved to Cary from Calgary, Canada, in 2001, a year after they married.

Gessner sentenced Cooper to at least 12 years in prison. He will be given credit for the five years he has served.

Cooper had told authorities his wife had gone jogging and never returned when he reported her missing. Nancy Cooper died of strangulation.

Cooper was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 in a trial that included 36 days of testimony from nearly 100 witnesses. The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned Cooper’s conviction last year. The North Carolina Supreme Court refused the attorney general’s request to review the case.

Under the plea agreement, Cooper had to agree to the adoption of his daughters, now 8 and 10. They are living with Nancy Cooper’s sister.

The evidence in the case was largely circumstantial. The Court of Appeals said the evidence connecting Cooper to the crime “was primarily potential motive, opportunity, and testimony of suspicious behavior.”

The Appeals Court also said Cooper should have been allowed to have his own experts testify about some of the evidence.

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