STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. WALTER A. TORMASI
A-3830-13T4Defendant, convicted of his mother's 1996 murder, filed in 2011 a post-conviction relief petition based on an incomplete affidavit purporting to contain his father's acknowledgement that he, not defendant, was responsible for the murder; this thirty-eight-page document was discovered by defendant's brother shortly after the father's death in 2010. The PCR judge conducted a testimonial hearing limited solely to the admissibility of the document; defendant's siblings testified they had seen the complete document, with a signed and notarized thirty-ninth page years earlier. The PCR judge concluded — without opining on the siblings' credibility — that the document was inadmissible because it was neither handwritten, signed, nor capable of being authenticated. The court reversed, holding that, even though incomplete, the document was admissible pursuant to N.J.R.E. 803(c)(25) and capable of being authenticated pursuant to N.J.R.E. 901. The court remanded for consideration of the witnesses' credibility and the other factors relevant to claims of newly-discovered evidence.