Sneiderman attorney attacks state’s ‘hypocrisy’ in bid for new trial


COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE

Since the story broke in November 2010, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters have been keeping up with developments in the case of the slaying of Rusty Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody day care center. Count on the AJC to follow the latest effort by attorneys to seek a new trial for his wife, Andrea.

Andrea Sneiderman on Tuesday was back before the judge who sentenced her to five years in prison as her lawyer argued the Dunwoody widow deserved a new trial.

Sneiderman was convicted of perjury after she testified that she did not have an affair with her husband’s killer. But defense attorney Brian Steel, without acknowledging his client lied, told DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams, “Just because a person testifies falsely under oath doesn’t mean it’s material.”

The distinction is critical, as a false statement under oath is not perjury. For her testimony to be perjured, it had to be material to the conviction of Hemy Neuman, found guilty but mentally ill of fatally shooting Rusty Sneiderman in the parking lot of his son’s nursery.

Andrea Sneiderman was released from prison last June following her 2013 conviction for perjury and hindering the investigation into her husband’s murder. Sneiderman is on parole through August 2017.

Steel had hoped to introduce Neuman’s appeal brief in which the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office “admitted Ms. Sneiderman’s alleged perjured testimony was not essential to the verdict rendered in Mr. Neuman’s trial.”

But Judge Adams on Tuesday sustained the state’s objection to admitting information from Neuman’s appeal, which was heard last month by the Georgia Supreme Court.

“Just because she was effectively impeached doesn’t make the false statements any less material,” argued DeKalb County Deputy Assistant District Attorney Anna Cross.

Steel said he inserted Neumans’ Supreme Court brief so he could get it on the record for any future appeal.

“The prosecution is arguing on one hand that Ms. Sneiderman’s testimony at the Neuman trial did not affect, was not material or critical to the verdict, and on the other hand the prosecutor is saying in Ms. Sneiderman’s trial oh, her testimony, allegedly false, was critical material,” Steel said.

A new trial might be risky for Sneiderman, said a lawyer who’s been involved in the case since the beginning.

“She should be careful what she wishes for as she just might get it and give (DeKalb District Attorney) Robert James enough to re-indict for murder the way three prior grand juries thought she should be,” said attorney Esther Panitch, who formerly represented Sneiderman’s in-laws and Neuman’s ex-wife.

Andrea Sneiderman was initially indicted for her husband’s murder, but James withdrew the charges days before her trial. Because the mother of two was sentenced under the First Offender Act, her nine felony convictions will be erased, assuming she does not commit another crime.