Sneiderman saga resumes as court overturns conviction

MARCH 4, 2014 DECATUR Convicted murderer Hemy Neuman leaves the courtroom after a hearing before Judge Gregory A Adams in Dekalb Superior Court Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Neuman's lawyers are seeking a new trial due in part to the perjury conviction of Andrea Sneiderman last year. Neuman was found guilty but mentally ill of shooting Rusty Sneiderman in front of a daycare in Dunwoody in November 2010. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM
MARCH 4, 2014 DECATUR Convicted murderer Hemy Neuman leaves the courtroom after a hearing before Judge Gregory A Adams in Dekalb Superior Court Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Neuman's lawyers are seeking a new trial due in part to the perjury conviction of Andrea Sneiderman last year. Neuman was found guilty but mentally ill of shooting Rusty Sneiderman in front of a daycare in Dunwoody in November 2010. KENT D. JOHNSON / KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC

It’s been almost five years since Rusty Sneiderman was gunned down in the parking lot of his son’s daycare facility. Two trials and two convictions later, the sordid saga that included allegations of infidelity and conspiracy to commit murder is set to begin anew.

Citing a violation of attorney-client privilege, Georgia’s Supreme Court on Monday announced it has reversed the conviction of Hemy Neuman, who was found guilty but mentally ill of the 2010 murder of Sneiderman. DeKalb County District Attorney spokesman Erik Burton said Neuman will be re-tried.

For Neuman, who, according to prosecutors, killed Sneiderman because he was in love with the Dunwoody entrepreneur’s wife, Andrea, a new trial means a chance at freedom — not anytime soon, but someday. The former GE Energy executive is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We are absolutely certain that he will be found not guilty by reason of insanity,” Neuman co-counsel Doug Peters told reporters Monday.

To prove that, Neuman’s attorneys are likely to revisit their defense from the 2012 trial. In his closing argument, Peters asked jurors to return a verdict that says, “What about Andrea Sneiderman?”

“A verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is a verdict that says Hemy was used. Hemy was manipulated,” Peters said.

Esther Panitch — the attorney who represented Neuman’s former wife Reli and, later, Rusty Sneiderman’s parents and brother — said the re-trial “is going to be The Andrea Show all over again.”

“They are forever intertwined,” Panitch said of Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman.

This time, however, Sneiderman will not testify, said her attorney, Brian Steel. In 2012, prosecutors used Sneiderman’s testimony as evidence to bring murder charges against the Dunwoody widow. The charges were later dropped.

Sneiderman — who has steadfastly denied accusations she was romantically involved with Neuman, her former boss — was convicted in 2013 of perjury and and hindering the apprehension of a killer. She served 10 months in prison and is under parole supervision until August 2017.

It’s unclear whether her perjured testimony will be admissible in a re-trial.

“I’m not aware of a previous case where there’s been a reversal and, in between, the key witness from that trial was found guilty of perjury,” said Scott Key, who argued Neuman’s case in front of the Georgia Supreme Court.

The court, in a 6-1 decision, ruled that DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams erred by allowing into evidence the notes and records of two mental health experts who examined Neuman before trial.

That left the impression with jurors that the defense was “shopping for experts,” Peters said. Their role was to provide a “initial assessment to see if there were psychological issues we needed to aware of,” he said.

Peters would not say whether Neuman would take the stand at his re-trial. In issuing its decision, the Supreme Court said the evidence “was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that (the defendant) was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted.”

Steel doesn't appear concerned that Andrea Sneiderman might be exposed by a new trial, calling the Supreme Court's decision, "a great opinion by a great court. I hope the Court of Appeals of Georgia reverses Mrs. Sneiderman's convictions and sentences."

Criminal defense attorney Steve Sadow, who is not involved in the case, said District Attorney Robert James’ probably would not pursue additional charges against the widow.

“Finding her guilty would be a tremendous uphill battle,” Sadow said. “There’s nothing in it for James.”

Neuman, sentenced to life in prison without parole, remains in custody. He he has the right to seek bond but will not do so, Peters said.

“He should not be released,” he said.

Sadow said he would not be surprised if the two sides negotiate a plea deal for voluntary manslaughter, typically a 20-year sentence.

“I’m always open to pursuing any fair resolution of a case,” Peters said.

Rusty Sneiderman’s immediate family declined comment on the latest developments.

“Imagine your family member being gunned down, the killer admitting his guilt, and it’s still not enough,” Panitch said. “The real tragedy here is that this family will have to re-live this nightmare all over again.”

Nov. 18, 2010 - Rusty Sneiderman is shot to death after taking his son to Dunwoody Prep day care.

Jan. 4, 2011 - Hemy Neuman, who supervised Rusty Sneiderman's wife at GE Energy, is arrested and charged with murder. Found guilty of murder but mentally ill, he is sentenced to life without parole.

Aug. 19, 2013 – Key witness in Neuman's trial, Andrea Sneiderman is convicted of perjury. She served 10 months in prison and is currently on probation until August 2017.

Monday — Georgia's Supreme Court cites a violation of attorney-client privilege in reversing the conviction of Neuman.

Next – Neuman’s attorneys say they will not seek bond and he will remain in custody while they await the scheduling of a new trial.