— While the Sneiderman family is grateful that their son’s killer has been sentenced to life in prison, the guilty verdict that came in yesterday is small comfort for their loss.
Hemy Neuman, 48, was convicted on Thursday after admitting to murdering Rusty Sneiderman, a married father of two, by shooting him four times at close range in front of his children’s daycare center in Dunwoody, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, in November 2010. Neuman was alleged to be having an affair with Sneiderman’s wife, and his defense team unsuccessfully argued that he was not guilty by reason of insanity. Neuman claimed that he heard voices of angels and demons in the form of singers Barry White and Olivia Newton-John that made him do it.
Neuman was sentenced to life without parole, but “it won’t bring Rusty back,’’ Sneiderman’s father, Don, told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. “Nothing will do that ... all we care about is finding some way to keep him alive in our hearts.’’
‘Light of our life’
While Neuman’s insanity defense was unsuccessful, the jury did indicate it felt he had a mental illness, which he will be evaluated for once he enters the prison system. During the trial, Neuman spoke to the court, saying, “(Sneiderman) was a good man with so much ahead of him, and I’m so, so, so sorry for their loss.’’
“I think it’s an excuse,’’ Sneiderman’s mother, Marilyn, said about the mental illness defense. “Nothing will bring Rusty back and that’s what we wanted most.’’
“I’ve heard that line, ‘I’m so, so sorry’ from many people in this case, and it just bothers the heck out of me,’’ Don Sneiderman said.
The family remembered their son and brother as a happy and positive man and took some solace in the fact that his killer will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“He was the light of our life,’’ Marilyn Sneiderman said. “He was loved by everyone with his big smile, and he was interested in helping everybody. He was too good a man to die like that.’’
“I think that justice was done yesterday in the fact that the killer will never walk free again,’’ said Rusty’s brother, Steve Sneiderman. “Our number one objective when we came to Atlanta for this trial was to make sure that he could never walk amongst us again, and so we do feel that there was some small sense of justice, some small sense of comfort, that he was given life without the possibility of parole, so that we’ll never have to deal with him again. As for the rest of this, we’ll just press forward.’’
‘We watched her lie’
The family also believes that their son’s wife, Andrea Sneiderman, played a role in the murder. During the trial, she denied having an affair with Neuman, who was her boss and took several business trips with her. Sneiderman claimed he was obsessed with her, but during the trial she exhibited such bizarre behavior that she was later barred from the court for being disruptive.
“We know that she’s lied,’’ Steve Sneiderman said. “We watched her lie on the stand. She lied about the nature of her relationship with the killer. She clearly had an inappropriate relationship with him.
“She lied about critical information that could’ve led law enforcement to arrest him much faster than they did. We know that she lied about when she knew Rusty had been shot. Her story doesn’t fit together, and so we’re grateful that the district attorney’s office is hearing the same things that we’re hearing in this testimony and that the investigations are going to continue.’’
Andrea Sneiderman has not been charged with any crime, and her attorney released the following statement after the verdict: “Andrea is grateful for and relieved by the jury’s guilty verdict 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.’’
Will widow be charged?
Rusty Sneiderman’s sister, Lisa, recalled a possibly incriminating conversation with Andrea Sneiderman after they were given the news of Rusty being shot.
“The last time I spoke with her, we were speaking right after Hemy Neuman was arrested and she indicated to me that she was suicidal when she thought of how much worse this could get for her and immediately was alarmed,’’ Lisa Sneiderman told Guthrie. “I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ and she said, ‘What do you think I mean by that?’ I knew immediately that she was in big trouble.’’
Inconsistencies in Andrea Sneiderman’s story about her relationship with Neuman and the exact timeline of when she knew her husband had been shot have left open the possibility that she still could be charged after an ongoing investigation.
“I can’t answer that right now,’’ district attorney Robert James told NBC News. “I will look at the facts. I will look at the evidence, and we’ll do what the evidence requires and what justice requires.’’
Neuman’s defense team also claimed after the trial that Andrea Sneiderman manipulated Neuman to carry out the murder.
“It’s clear to me that Andrea is covered in Rusty’s blood, and there are not enough rabbis in the world to wash away those stains,’’ Steve Sneiderman told reporters.