Andrea Sneiderman was aware the state believed she had an affair with Hemy Neuman, the man accused of killing her husband, but she took the stand in her former boss' murder trial because she wanted to help the prosecution secure a guilty verdict, the Dunwoody widow's attorney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday.
"Mrs. Sneiderman knew she was going to get beaten up on the witness stand," lawyer Seth Kirschenbaum said in a statement provided exclusively to the AJC. "[She] has always cooperated in this case, and she wanted to help the prosecution even if it meant being subjected to withering attack."
The relationship between Andrea Sneiderman and Neuman, who has acknowledged shooting Rusty Sneiderman but has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, took center stage during the trial's first week. Prosecutors and the defense alike hammered away at the credibility of the victim's widow.
The trial in DeKalb County Superior Court resumes at 9 a.m. Monday, and two central questions will loom as the second week of testimony gets under way:
First, why did Andrea Sneiderman wait so long to tell police about her suspicions that Neuman, her onetime supervisor at GE Energy, was involved in her husband's murder?
Second, how did Andrea Sneiderman know her husband had been shot, as her father-in-law and a friend testified, before she was notified by an emergency room doctor at Atlanta Medical Center, as she testified last week?
In his statement to the AJC, Kirschenbaum said his client told Dunwoody police on Nov. 19, 2010, the day after the shooting, that Neuman "had made advances on her." The lead detective in the case, Andrew Thompson of the Dunwoody Police Department, has said Sneiderman "seriously minimized" those advances, adding "we were being driven towards other avenues of investigation" by Andrea Sneiderman and her immediate family.
Nearly six weeks after the shooting, on Dec. 28, 2010, Sneiderman received an "unexpected and inappropriate email" from Neuman while she was in Florida with her parents, Kirschenbaum told the AJC. The email contained a "gift" via iTunes -- the romantic ballad "Just the Way You Are" by Bruno Mars.
It wasn't the first time Neuman had expressed a romantic interest in Sneiderman; at one point before her husband's shooting the defendant asked her to marry him.
But it wasn't until the Dec. 28 email that Sneiderman "began to suspect" Neuman, Kirschenbaum said in his statement.
"Her suspicions continued to grow and on December 30, 2010, she told her friend, Tammi Parker, that she thought Mr. Neuman might be the killer," he said. "Mrs. Sneiderman also told Ms. Parker that the more she looked at the police sketch of the killer, the more it looked like Mr. Neuman."
After returning from Florida, "Mrs. Sneiderman told Ms. Parker that she was going to talk to the police about her suspicions of Mr. Neuman and make sure they were including him in their investigation," Kirschenbaum said.
It would be another week before she mentioned her suspicions to police. Andrea Sneiderman testified she waited because she feared Neuman was monitoring her emails.
"Mrs. Sneiderman asked to meet with the police and, on the morning of January 4, 2011, went with her father and her rabbi to meet with [Dunwoody Police Chief Billy] Grogan. In that meeting, she asked if the police knew Mr. Neuman’s whereabouts on the morning of the murder and whether he had been brought in for questioning."
Prosecutor Don Geary, however, had a different interpretation of that meeting with the chief. “You took them down a rabbit hole," Geary said Wednesday in court. "Why were you protecting the defendant?”
Andrea Sneiderman and the DeKalb County district attorney's office, however, aren't completely at odds. Kirschenbaum said his client does not believe her former boss was insane at the time of the shooting, calling it "a cold-blooded, premeditated murder."
He provided the AJC with an email he says Neuman sent to his client the day after he attended Shiva at Sneiderman's home. While there, he offered his condolences to the widow and the victim's immediate family.
"As sad and as anguished as I felt yesterday at your home … Not knowing why Rusty was taken so violently and senselessly … It was amazing to see what a beautiful, wonderful, amazing family and friends you have," Neuman wrote in the email, dated Nov. 24, 2010. "It will be hard tomorrow for you to think of anything to be thankful for … and I tear at that thought … Look at that amazing group of people around you and how blessed you are with them."
He signed the email, "Your friend, Hemy."