DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A corporate engineer who fawned over a female subordinate was found guilty but mentally ill Thursday of shooting the woman’s husband to death in an ambush outside a suburban Atlanta preschool.
After a judge sentenced Hemy Neuman to life in prison without parole for killing Russell Sneiderman, prosecutors shifted their attention to Sneiderman’s wife. During the trial, they suggested that Andrea Sneiderman was a “co-conspirator” in the slaying, goading a love-struck Neuman into killing her husband, perhaps for a $2 million life insurance policy.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys for Neuman said he was having an affair with Andrea Sneiderman, though she repeatedly denied those allegations. She also has said she had nothing to do with the killing.
When pressed about whether charges were imminent, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said: “Stay tuned.”
“It’s something we’re looking at. I know it’s important to this family. It’s important to America. But as a prosecutor I have an obligation to follow the facts … and make a decision that seeks justice,” James said.
Neuman’s attorneys and Russell Sneiderman’s family believe she should be investigated.
“It’s clear to me that Andrea is covered in Rusty’s blood,” Russell Sneiderman’s brother Steve said.
In a statement, Andrea Sneiderman’s lawyer said she was grateful for the conviction and sentence.
“Nothing can bring back her husband, but it is reassuring to her that, after all of the noise and distractions surrounding this case, some measure of justice has been done for Rusty,” attorney Jennifer Little said. She would not comment on a possible investigation of her client.
Neuman’s attorneys, meanwhile, are planning to appeal.
Neuman, a Georgia Tech graduate and father of three, was a high-ranking manager at General Electric, where he supervised Andrea Sneiderman. He was arrested about six weeks after the Nov. 18, 2010 killing.
She testified she didn’t discover her husband had been shot until she reached the hospital about an hour after the shooting, but her father-in-law and a close friend both said she called to deliver the bad news only minutes after he was shot.
She also faced aggressive questions over the timing of her decision to tell police about her suspicions of Neuman. She told a close friend in December 2010 that she believed Neuman could have killed her husband, but didn’t tell detectives for another week.
Andrea Sneiderman and Neuman began working together when she was hired in early 2010. Records show they exchanged 1,500 phone calls and text messages in the months leading up to the killing, including three phone calls on the eve of her husband’s death and several more calls on the way to the hospital. On work trips, they would share long dinners and intimate moments, including sex, according to attorneys.
Andrea Sneiderman said she acknowledged she made mistakes by holding hands with Neuman, dancing with him at a bar and having long dinners. But she said she never had an affair with him.
As for why she didn’t tell police early on about Neuman’s feelings for her, she said the notion that he killed her husband seemed unfathomable.
“Seems kind of ridiculous, right?” she said. “The theory that my boss could kill my husband, it seemed kind of stupid at the time.”
During Neuman’s sentencing, prosecutors and Sneiderman’s brother urged the judge to give him the maximum punishment of life without parole.
“His obituary is already written. It reads, `Hemy Neuman, convicted murderer. Period,'” said Steve Sneiderman said.
DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams had the option of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years, but he called the killing a “planned execution” with no justification. The sentence means that Neuman will receive mental treatment while serving the rest of his life behind bars.
Neuman told the judge the shooting was a terrible tragedy.
“I am so, so, so sorry. I can’t say it enough … I am sorry from the deepest part of my heart, your honor,” Neuman said.
His attorneys said he couldn’t tell the difference between right and wrong when he killed Sneiderman, and urged the jury to find him not guilty by reason of insanity. If the jury had reached that verdict, Neuman would have become a ward of the state mental health department and a judge would have later decided when, if ever, he could be released.
Neuman told mental health examiners he was visited by a demon whose voice sounded like Barry White and an angel who looked like Olivia Newton-John. The angel ordered him to fatally shoot Sneiderman, Neuman said in one interview.
Russell Sneiderman, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur, was killed shortly after he dropped off the couple’s 2-year-old son at a daycare in Dunwoody, a wealthy suburb north of Atlanta. Police said a bearded man in a hoodie resembling Neuman fired four shots at the 36-year-old Sneiderman and sped away, blending in with rush hour traffic.
Neuman’s lawyers said during the monthlong trial he fell so hopelessly in love with Andrea Sneiderman that he believed he was the father of her two young children and that the only way to protect them was to kill her husband. Defense attorney Doug Peters called her a tease and an adulterer who took advantage of Neuman’s deteriorating mental condition.
“The gun in this case was in Hemy’s hand,” Peters said. “But the trigger, I respectfully suggest, was pulled by Andrea Sneiderman.”
Neuman’s attorneys tried to portray their client as a brilliant but troubled child who was constantly in fear of his father, a Holocaust survivor wracked with guilt because he was able to escape the death chambers at Auschwitz while many relatives died.
Born in Mexico, Neuman was sent to a boarding school in Israel and still suffers from fear of being abandoned, his attorneys said. He later landed the GE job that allowed him to buy a pricey home in an upscale Atlanta suburb.
Neuman first tried to kill his rival Nov. 10, 2010, when he camped outside Sneiderman’s house with a gun and waited to attack, prosecutors said. He bolted after Russell Sneiderman noticed an intruder on his property and called police.
Days later, Neuman went to Russell Sneiderman’s funeral and even visited Andrea Sneiderman’s house for a Jewish mourning ceremony – an audacious move that prosecutors said underscored Neuman’s careful planning.
“He was a cold-blooded killer. An adulterer. And a liar,” said James. “And ultimately he got what he deserved: Justice.”