P. J., RICKMAN and COOMER, JJ.
Vickie Heard, Michael Bryan Payne ("Bryan"), and
Larry Payne's competing claims to a winning lottery
ticket, the Georgia Lottery Corporation ("the
Corporation") filed a complaint for interpleader seeking
a determination as to which party had a right to the lottery
funds. The case was tried before a jury, and the jury found
that Larry was the rightful owner of the lottery ticket at
issue. The trial court entered an order on the verdict,
directing the Corporation to pay the prize winnings to Larry.
Heard appeals from the trial court's order. Heard
contends that the trial court erred by denying her motion to
exclude the testimony of a witness, allowing the same witness
to testify that Bryan agreed to take a polygraph examination,
and by allowing the Paynes to introduce certain evidence. For
the following reasons, we affirm.
construe the evidence in favor of the jury's verdict. See
Evans v. Cushing Properties, 197 Ga.App. 380 (1) (a)
(398 S.E.2d 306) (1990). So construed, the evidence showed
that Larry lives in Alabama. On February 13, 2015, Larry and
his cousin drove from Alabama to Tennessee to pick up a car.
After purchasing the car, Larry stopped in Trenton, Georgia
and bought a lottery ticket. When he got home, Larry gave the
lottery ticket to his cousin so that his cousin could check
the numbers for a winner on his computer. In June 2015,
Larry's cousin gave Larry four lottery tickets, including
Larry's ticket from February, and told him that he had
not checked the numbers for a winner. Larry put the tickets
underneath the sun visor in his car.
one month later, Larry let Bryan, his nephew, borrow his car
to drive to Georgia. Larry eventually remembered that the
lottery tickets were in the car, and he called and asked
Bryan to redeem them for him in Georgia. In Georgia, Bryan
stopped at a gas station to check all four tickets. The gas
station clerk informed Bryan that three were worth $7 each
and that one was worth more than $600, so he would have to
call the Corporation for information about the pay out.
Initially, Bryan thought he might keep the money for himself
and did not call Larry to update him on the status of his
days later, Bryan was working at Heard and her husband's
auto body shop when he told Heard that he needed to take the
next day off of work to cash in the lottery ticket. Bryan
asked if someone could accompany him to Georgia, and Heard
volunteered her sister to ride with him. After arriving at
the Corporation, an employee checked the ticket and informed
Bryan and Heard's sister that the ticket was worth $1
million. Upon returning to the body shop, Heard's sister
told Heard the value of the ticket, and Bryan stated that he
needed to call and tell Larry about the winning ticket.
Heard, however, encouraged Bryan to wait and surprise Larry
later in the week.
in the week, Heard's husband called Larry, his cousin,
and asked him to come to the shop. At the shop, Heard told
Larry that Bryan had won $1 million in the lottery but that
Bryan had stolen her lottery ticket. Heard told Larry that
the numbers on the ticket were the same numbers that she
picked every time. But when Heard confronted Bryan, he stated
he got the ticket from the sun visor of Larry's car.
contacted the Etowah County Sheriff's Department about
the alleged theft. She told the assigned investigator that
she knew the ticket was hers because she always played
certain numbers. Although Heard informed the investigator
that she purchased the ticket in Trenton, Georgia, she was
unsure of which gas station she bought the ticket from.
Notably, during one of her many phone calls to the
Corporation, Heard repeatedly asked the Corporation employee
to tell her which gas station the ticket was purchased from.
Ultimately, the investigator determined that no charges
should be brought against Bryan. The investigator testified
that Bryan agreed to take a polygraph examination and that
his agreement to take the examination factored into his
decision not to prosecute.
investigator for the Corporation testified that Heard also
told him that the numbers on the ticket were numbers that she
always played. He also testified, however, that the ticket in
question was a quick pick lottery ticket, meaning that the
computer picked the numbers, which was inconsistent with
Heard's statements that she chose the numbers.
forensic document examiner testified as an expert that the
watermark on the lottery ticket was very faint, which would
be consistent with having been left in an automobile in
Alabama during the summer.
husband testified that on the day the lottery ticket was
purchased, he and Heard had "switched phones" and
that he stayed at the shop all day. The phone records for the
phone that Heard was allegedly using on that date showed that
calls were made from Irondale and Moody, Alabama. When asked
what Heard would have been doing in Irondale or Moody,
Heard's husband responded, "well, if she went,
that's the place where we pick up cars." Heard
testified that she did not take a phone with her on the date
she bought the lottery ticket when she traveled alone from
Alabama to Trenton, Georgia. Instead, she "carr[ied] a
Corporation filed a complaint for interpleader seeking a
determination as to whether Larry, Bryan, or Heard had a
right to the lottery funds. The trial court granted a partial
directed verdict against Bryan because he testified at trial
that he did not claim any interest in the ticket. The jury
found "in favor of Defendant Larry Payne and that he is
the rightful owner of the Powerball lottery ticket at
Heard contends that the trial court erred by denying her
motion to exclude the Sheriff's Office investigator from
testifying. Heard argues that the investigator's
testimony was not relevant to any issue in the case.
relevant evidence shall be admissible, except as limited by
constitutional requirements or as otherwise provided by law
or by other rules. . . . Evidence which is not relevant shall
not be admissible." OCGA § 24-4-402. "[T]he
term "relevant evidence" means evidence having any
tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of
consequence to the determination of the action more probable
or less probable than it would be without the evidence."
OCGA § 24-4-401. "[E]vidence having a tendency to
establish facts in issue is relevant and admissible, and no
matter how slight the probative value, our law favors
admission of relevant evidence." (Citation and
punctuation omitted.) City of Atlanta v. Bennett,
322 Ga.App. 726, 728 (1) (746 S.E.2d 198) (2013). "A
trial court's ...