Andrea Sneiderman defense team challenges testimony of former best friend

Andrea Sneiderman’s defense team spent much of the eighth day of her perjury trial challenging the emotional claims of the Dunwoody widow’s former best friend.

Shayna Citron testified last week that Sneiderman had “checked out of her marriage” to Rusty Sneiderman months before the Harvard-educated entrepreneur was gunned down in the parking lot of a Dunwoody day care facility. Prosecutors allege that Andrea Sneiderman had an affair with her supervisor, Hemy Neuman, who was convicted of the killing last year and sentenced to life in prison.

“Her eyes were dark and cold when she was speaking about Rusty,” Citron said, recounting a conversation she had with Andrea Sneiderman during a lunch date. “When she was speaking about her boss, her eyes were sparkling.”

Prosecutors allege Sneiderman, 37, misled investigators and hindered the apprehension of a criminal in connection with her husband’s murder. She has denied accusations of an affair with Neuman.

A parade of friends, neighbors and employees were called to the stand to attest that the Sneidermans — contrary to previous testimony — were a loving, committed couple.

“They made each other laugh,” close friend Andy Lipman said.

Then there was Citron. The defense introduced snippets of her interview with Dunwoody police detectives they say impeached last week’s testimony.

After telling investigators the Sneidermans had endured a rough patch, she said those issues had been largely “smoothed over.” And when asked whether her friend was the type of person to compromise her ethics or bend the rules, Citron responded with an emphatic “No.”

Citron’s attorney, Jay Abt, explained his client’s shift.

“In January (2011), when police questioned Shayna, she still believed in Andrea,” Abt said. “Shayna didn’t realize the importance of certain events until after it became clear” later on.

The defense also went after the testimony of one of their own witnesses, Donna Formato, an administrator at Dunwoody Prep, where Rusty Sneiderman was shot.

Formato testified Tuesday that she couldn’t recall whether someone at Dunwoody Prep told Andrea Sneideman about the shooting. A friend of the defendant, Elizabeth Stansbury, followed her on the stand and said that Formato told her something different on the day after the shooting, saying Sneiderman “collapsed in a chair” after she was given the news.

The day care administrator initially told investigator Mark Potter of the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office the same thing but revised her account in subsequent interviews.

“She said she had no recollection that anyone said the word ‘shot,’ ” Potter testified Wednesday.

Wednesday ended with the two sides battling over an audiotape of Sneiderman’s reaction after police told her Neuman had been arrested. The defense said it showed their client was genuinely shocked to learn that her boss killed her husband, disputing the prosecution’s claim she had prior knowledge. The state countered that playing the tape would be “self-serving” and exculpatory. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams sided with prosecutors.

Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan also was a witness for the defense, even though he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year that Sneiderman’s response made him suspicious. In the tape, Grogan can be heard telling her that police had made an arrest. Sneiderman shrieked before chiding Grogan for making her nervous. It was at least a minute before she asked him who had been arrested.

The defense is expected to rest its case Thursday. It’s still unknown whether Sneiderman will take the stand.

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