March 13 (Bloomberg) -- Hemy Neuman, a former GE Energy executive in Atlanta, isn’t guilty of murder because he was legally insane when he shot to death the husband of a co-worker, a defense lawyer told jurors at the end of his trial.
“Hemy Neuman on Nov. 18, 2010, did not have the mental capacity to distinguish right from wrong,” defense attorney Bob Rubin said today in his closing arguments in Decatur, Georgia. “In fact he thought he was doing the right thing.”
Prosecutors countered by arguing that Neuman, 49, was legally sane when he shot and killed Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman, 36, outside a day care center.
The defense doesn’t deny that Neuman intercepted and killed Sneiderman in front of the center, Dunwoody Prep, where he had dropped off his 2-year-old son.
Neuman’s lawyers maintain he was fixated on Sneiderman’s wife, Andrea, 35, who worked with him at GE Energy, and that he believed he was the father of her two children.
Andrea Sneiderman worked for Neuman in software systems support at the company, where he was an engineer overseeing 5,000 people, according to evidence in court.
Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman had an emotional personal relationship that included some type of sexual contact, Doug Peters, another Neuman lawyer, told the jury.
Both sides said Neuman was obsessed with Andrea Sneiderman, who wasn’t in the courtroom. Earlier she testified they didn’t have an affair.
She isn’t charged with any crime, and nothing introduced at the trial implicated her in Neuman’s plan to kill her husband.
“Hemy Neuman killed Rusty Sneiderman because he wanted his wife, because he wanted his money, because he wanted his life,” District Attorney Robert James of DeKalb County said. “In Georgia, we call that cold-blooded murder.”
Andrea Sneiderman, who was at work when the shooting occurred, played a role in events leading up to her husband’s death, Peters said.
“The gun was in the hand of Hemy Neuman,” the lawyer said. “The trigger, I would suggest, was pulled by Andrea Sneiderman.”
She collected $2 million in life insurance, Peters said.
Andrea Sneiderman and Neuman exchanged messages and talked on the phone after the crime on the day of the shooting, James told the jury. The messages’ content wasn’t disclosed.
Seth Kirschenbaum, Andrea Sneiderman’s attorney, declined to accept a phone call seeking comment on the closing arguments.
Adriana Flores, a forensic psychologist, testified for the defense last week that Neuman was sexually and romantically obsessed with Andrea Sneiderman.
When Neuman killed Sneiderman, he believed he was acting on orders from an angel with a woman’s voice and a demon with a man’s, Flores said.
A psychiatrist for the defense, Tracey Marks, said Neuman was delusional, bipolar and unable to tell right from wrong when he shot Sneiderman.
Neuman isn’t bipolar, depressed or legally insane, said two witnesses for the prosecution, Pamela Crawford, a forensic psychologist, and William Brickhouse, a psychiatrist who is mental health director at the DeKalb County jail. Someone who is psychotic can’t plan and perform a killing as Neuman did, Crawford said.
Neuman faces life in prison without parole if convicted of murder, or life without parole or parole after 30 years if convicted of murder while mentally ill.
He will be held in a mental institution if found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. To reach that finding, the jury must decide only by a preponderance of the evidence, not the higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt necessary for a conviction.
The case is State v. Neuman, 11CR1364-5, Georgia Superior Court, DeKalb County (Decatur).
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