When a Georgia judge sentenced a former General Electric supervisor to life in prison without parole for killing his subordinate's husband outside a preschool, the case seemed far from closed.
That's because the focus of the monthlong trial was as much on the victim's wife, Andrea Sneiderman, as it was on the accused. After Hemy Neuman was found guilty but mentally ill Thursday of the November 2010 murder of Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman, the question quickly became whether prosecutors would charge her with a crime in her husband's death.
Neuman's defense attorneys and Russell Sneiderman's family said they hope to see prosecutors investigate Andrea Sneiderman in the killing. Russell Sneiderman's brother, Steve, said the family has long suspected Andrea was involved in Russell's death, and the trial only confirmed their suspicions.
"Why? What is she hiding? These questions must be answered and answered soon," he said, adding: "We'll have no peace until everyone involved in Rusty's death is held accountable for their actions. In the meantime it's clear to me that Andrea is covered in Rusty's blood."
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said his office is reviewing the case and, when pressed after the trial on whether imminent charges would be filed related to the victim's wife, he said: "Stay tuned."
"Everybody's asking that question," said James. "And I'm not going to stand up here and be disingenuous and say that's something that's not being considered."
Andrea Sneiderman has denied knowing anything about the shooting and her attorney said after the verdict that her client was grateful for the conviction and sentence. She wouldn't comment on the possibility of a criminal investigation.
"Nothing can bring back her husband," said attorney Jennifer Little, "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."
Days of testimony during the trial targeted whether Andrea Sneiderman was involved in an affair with Neuman, whether she knew about the details of her husband's death suspiciously early and whether she worked with her former boss to cover it up. This week's closing arguments only ratcheted up the rhetoric.
Attorney Doug Peters, who represented Neuman, called her a "tease" who took advantage of Neuman's rapidly deteriorating mental state, saying that while his client may have had the gun, "the trigger, I respectfully suggest, was pulled by Andrea Sneiderman." James took it a step further, suggesting that the widow was a "co-conspirator."
"Hemy didn't hide his crime from Andrea because Andrea already knew," James said in the trial.
J. Tom Morgan, a former DeKalb County district attorney, said a prosecutor can't ethically accuse anyone of the crime to the news media unless that person has been charged, indicted or granted immunity. But that doesn't prevent a prosecutor from suggesting a witness was involved in a criminal act to a jury as long as the evidence backs it up.
"So the D.A. can do something in closing he would be prohibited from doing in a press conference," said Morgan, who is now in private practice. "Whether Robert is going to do something with her after the trial is anyone's guess."
Peters said he's confident his client would testify if charges are brought and she goes to trial.
"I believe that she planted the seed. I believe that as primed the pump. I believe that as stoked the fire," Peters said. "And I believe the evidence in the case indicates quite clearly that she wanted her husband murdered and that she manipulated him."
Phone records showed Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman exchanged multiple phone calls on the eve of her husband's death and immediately after the killing. And while she testified she didn't discover her husband had been shot until she reached the hospital about an hour after the shooting, her father-in-law and a close friend both said she called to deliver the bad news only minutes after he was shot.
Andrea Sneiderman, who has repeatedly denied being involved in an affair, said she made mistakes by holding hands with Neuman, dancing with him at a bar and having long dinners with him while on business trips. But she said she didn't report his advances because she feared for her job, and didn't air her suspicions that Neuman was involved because it seemed unfathomable.
"The theory that my boss could kill my husband, it seemed kind of stupid at the time," she testified.
Andrea Sneiderman was hired in early 2010 because her husband was having trouble finding a steady paycheck. She hit it off with Neuman and the two exchanged 1,500 phone calls and text messages in the months before the killing. On work trips, they shared intimate dinners and inside jokes _ and, attorneys say, sexual relations.
Her husband, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur who she met in college at Indiana University, was gunned down on Nov. 18, 2010 after dropping his 2-year-old son off at Dunwoody Prep. Police say a bearded man with a hoodie shot him four times and sped away in a rented minivan. Neuman was charged with the crime about six weeks later.
He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, saying he couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong during the shooting. His lawyers say he fell so hopelessly in love with Andrea Sneiderman that he believed he was the father of her two children and that the only way to protect them was to murder her husband.
Prosecutors said Neuman simply wasn't suffering from a "made up" mental illness, only jealousy for what he couldn't have. A jury agreed, rejecting Neuman's claim that he didn't know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the killing. They found him guilty but mentally ill, which means he'll have access to mental health treatment while spending his life behind bars.
Some legal experts who have been following the case said there were advantages to charging Neuman but not Andrea Sneiderman.
"The fact she wasn't indicted allowed her to be called as a witness," said John Petrey, an ex-DeKalb County prosecutor who is now in private practice. "And from the prosecution's point of view it was important that the jury hear and see Andrea Sneiderman. Had she been charged they couldn't have done that."
Petrey said prosecutors may take their time and develop a strong case that could secure not just an indictment but also a conviction.
"I'd marshal my best prosecutors and see if there's enough to indict and convict Andrea because if they're ready to make that leap they would want to be able to quickly take her to trial," he said.
James, the district attorney, said his office will do its best to seek justice for the victim's family.
"It's something we're looking at. I know it's important to this family. It's important to America," James said. "But as a prosecutor I have an obligation to follow the facts ... and make a decision that seeks justice."
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