The letter was hearsay and was inadmissible absent authentication. The victim categorically denied writing the letter, and there was no return address on the envelope. DNA analysis showed that saliva on the envelope did not belong to the victim. Fingerprint evidence did not show that the envelope was handled by the victim. While a handwriting expert hired by Cooper testified that the letter was "probably" written by the victim, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation handwriting expert testified that the letter was not authored by the victim. Furthermore, handwriting exemplars contained in the record show no similarity between the victim's handwriting and the writing on the letter. Finally, the author of the letter misspelled the victim's name when signing such in conclusion.
Credibility as it relates to the admissibility of evidence is an issue for the trial court; a trial court's findings as to credibility will be upheld on appeal unless clearly erroneous. The trial court's implied finding that the foundation witness was [not] credible was not clearly erroneous. 1
Absent a proper foundation authenticating the letter, the trial court did not err by refusing to grant Cooper a new trial based thereon. 2