GA Supreme Court hears second Hemy Neuman appeal

<p>Hemy Neuman surveys the courtroom during his motion for a new trial in front of DeKalb County Judge Gregory Adams at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Decatur, Tuesday, July 9, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)</p>

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Lawyers for Hemy Neuman, the former GE executive twice convicted of killing his paramour’s husband outside a Dunwoody day care center, argued Wednesday in state Supreme Court that their client was unfairly prosecuted a second time and deserves a new trial.

At issue is information obtained before Neuman’s first trial, in 2012, from two defense experts that Neuman was not, as his lawyers suggested, mentally ill. In 2015, Georgia’s high court reversed his convictions, finding that the notes and records of those experts should not have been admitted into evidence because they violated attorney-client privilege. He was re-tried and convicted again in 2016.

Neuman admitted, prior to his first trial, that he killed businessman Rusty Sneiderman following an affair with Sneiderman’s wife. Andrea Sneiderman, who worked under Neuman at GE, was later convicted of lying to investigators about the affair and spent nine months in prison. She was initially accused of orchestrating her husband’s 2010 murder; Neuman’s lawyers at the time said she took advantage of their client’s weakened mental state, subtly encouraging him to kill her husband. Murder charges against Andrea Sneiderman, who recently changed her name, were eventually dropped by then-DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James.

Jurors in the 2012 trial found Neuman guilty but mentally ill. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for the murder charge plus five years for a firearm charge. In the second trial, Neuman’s attorneys argued as part of their appeal, “witnesses were prohibited from fully testifying as to matters which would have supported his sole defense of insanity."

Michael Tarleton, representing Neuman, said Wednesday that the DeKalb DA’s office should have been disqualified from prosecuting a second time due to their exposure to that privileged information.

“What we specifically disputed was whether or not they could erase that evidence from their own minds,” Tarleton said. “We have no way of challenging that ourselves and it shouldn’t be our burden to do so.”

Anna Cross, part of the prosecution team that convicted Neuman, said there was no evidence of impropriety during the second trial.

“It’s always been the defendant’s burden to prove some kind of harm,” she said Wednesday. “What impact did state’s access to this evidence have? Independently, state experts came to the conclusion the defendant was malingering ... without any hint to the documents discussed.”

Neuman’s original sentence was reimposed after his second conviction. Attorney Esther Panitch, who represented Neuman’s ex-wife and observed Wednesday’s virtual hearing, said a third trial is unlikely.

“It’s a longshot,” she said. “They are basing their case on an appearance of impropriety that the Supreme Court originally addressed in its first appeal. No case law in Georgia supports (the defense’s) position as to these facts.”

Neuman, now 58, is incarcerated at the Augusta State Medical Prison.