A North Carolina appeals court has ordered a new trial for ex-Cisco employee Bradley Cooper - who was convicted two years ago for murdering his wife Nancy.
The court which convicted Cooper heard how temporary internet files recovered from the laptop indicated someone conducted a Google Map search on the laptop at approximately 1:15 p.m. on 11 July, 2008, the day before Nancy Cooper was murdered.
Agents thought that the search was done by someone using the laptop while it was at Cisco.
State tech experts testified that the Google Maps search was initiated by someone who entered the zip code associated with the Defendant's house, and then moved the map and zoomed in on the spot on Fielding Drive where Nancy Cooper's body was found.
The couple's marriage was on the rocks, and they had argued at a party the evening before Nancy Cooper disappeared. Bradley Cooper reported her missing and told police his wife had gone jogging and never returned.
However, he was seen on a store security camera early that morning buying items that included laundry detergent.
Cooper's defence attorney, Howard Kurtz, had planned to rely upon a longtime computer network security expert, Jay Ward, who was prepared to testify in his judgment the Google Maps evidence had been manufactured and placed on Cooper's computer after the murder.
But the prosecution objected to Ward offering such testimony, because he lacked specific computer forensics expertise which meant that he was unqualified.
Kurtz tried to use computer forensics expert Giovanni Masucci to testify that the evidence was planted.
The prosecution again objected, this time contending that the last-minute switch from Ward to Masucci violated rules of evidence.
So, thanks to all that maneuvering, the jury only heard about the Google Maps evidence and not anything that suggested that it had been planted.
The appeals court ruled the judge was mistaken both the first time when he ruled Ward was insufficiently qualified and the second when he failed to accept the defense attorney's good-faith attempt to provide an alternative expert witness.
In fact, the only physical evidence linking the Defendant to Ms. Cooper's murder was the alleged Google Maps search.
All the rest of the evidence was based on potential motive, opportunity, and testimony of suspicious behaviour, which was probably not enough to get a conviction.