One day after a DeKalb County grand jury indicted Andrea Sneiderman on eight counts associated with the 2010 murder of her husband Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman in Dunwoody, J. Tom Morgan said Friday that he expects to apply for a change of venue in his client’s upcoming murder trial.
“It would be difficult ... to get 12 jurors in the metro area that would be able to sit without considering all the things they’ve heard beforehand,” said defense co-counsel Morgan a former DeKalb district attorney. “You’ve got to be living in a cave to know nothing about this case.”
The DeKalb grand jury indicted Sneiderman last Thursday on charges of malice murder, attempt to commit murder, insurance fraud, racketeering and two counts each of perjury and false statements in connection with the November 2010 shooting death of her husband.
But Andrea Sneiderman is not charged with pulling the trigger for the multiple shots that killed her husband outside the Dunwoody day care center after he dropped off the couple’s young son. Her former boss at GE Energy, Hemy Neuman, acknowledged that he shot Rusty Sneiderman and is now serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.
As of the end of last week, Andrea Sneiderman remained in the DeKalb County Jail after being arrested Thursday morning on a “no bond warrant.” A bond hearing has been set for Aug. 21 in the DeKalb County Superior Court of Judge Gregory Adams, who presided over the Neuman trial.
Meanwhile, Dunwoody attorney Esther Panitch filed a motion in Fulton County Superior Court Friday on behalf of Rusty Sneiderman’s parents seeking emergency custody of their two grandchildren, Sophia, age 6 and Ian, age 3. Panitch also took over representation for Rusty Sneiderman’s parents, brother and sister-in-law in the custody and visitation case.
Sneiderman’s defense co-counsel Doug Chalmers said a response to the in-laws’ motion will be filed early next week. He serves as co-counsel in both the civil visitation case Fulton County as well as with Morgan and former DeKalb Assistant District Attorney John Petris.
Chalmers reportedly said the children were at the family’s Lake Oconee home in Putnam County on Thursday morning when their mother was arrested – contrary to what DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said at a news conference a few hours later.
“From my understanding, the children did not witness the arrest,” Erik Burton, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday. The children are now reportedly staying with Andrea Sneiderman’s parents.
As one of the conditions of bond, Sneiderman’s defense team will have to show she will not attempt to influence witnesses. During Neuman’s trial Adams barred Sneiderman from court for improper contact with a witness.
Sneiderman’s lawyers expressed confidence Friday, a day after the grand jury took just one and a half hours to hand down an eight-count indictment alleging that Sneiderman and Neuman, “conspired to murder” her husband, Rusty Sneiderman, in order to eliminate Neuman’s debt problems and “benefit from the assets” generated from the deceased’s life insurance policies.
Andrea Sneiderman has maintained that she had no involvement in the killing and that her only relationship with Neuman was as his employee at GE Energy.
The following are the eight charges against Andrea Sneiderman in the indictment handed down by the grand jury and the allegations presented by the district attorney’s office to support the charges:
• Racketeering: The allegation is that Sneiderman conspired with Neuman, with whom she was having an affair, to have her husband killed and obtain control of property, money and life insurance proceeds. Potential punishment: Not less than five nor more than 20 years.
• Attempted Murder: The allegation is that Sneiderman provided to Hemy Neuman her husband’s schedule so Neuman could kill him. Potential punishment: Not less than one nor more than 30 years.
• Malice Murder: The allegation is that Sneiderman was a party to the murder of her husband the morning of Nov. 18, 2010, outside a Dunwoody day care. Potential punishments: Life in prison with parole or life in prison without parole. The district attorney said at Thursday’s press conference his office would not seek the death penalty.
• Insurance Fraud: The allegation is that Sneiderman received $2 million from her husband’s life insurance policy with Northwestern Mutual Insurance Co. by knowingly filing a fraudulent claim with the intention of unlawfully depriving Northwestern Mutual of said money. Potential punishment: Not less than two nor more than 10 years in prison.
• False Statements: The allegation is that Sneiderman told police investigators she did not believe Neuman had anything to do with her husband’s murder. Potential punishment: Not less than one nor more than five years in prison.
• False Statements: The allegation is that Sneiderman told police investigators she did not know her husband had been shot before her arrival at the day care on Nov. 18, 2010. Potential punishment: Not less than one nor more than five years in prison.
• Perjury: The allegation is that, testifying under oath in a judicial proceeding Feb. 21-22, Sneiderman said she did not have an affair with Neuman before her husband’s murder. Potential punishment: Not less than one nor more than 10 years in prison.
• Perjury: The allegation is that, testifying under oath in a judicial proceeding Feb. 21-22, Sneiderman said she did not know her husband had been shot before she arrived at the Atlanta Medical Center. Potential punishment: Not less than one nor more than 10 years in prison.
The indictment repeats allegations made during Neuman’s trial regarding an affair between Andrea Sneiderman and Neuman that, the DeKalb D.A. says, “led to the death of Russell Sneiderman.”
James said Thursday he was “confident in the case and evidence” and that prosecutors would use “the same formula that worked last time,” referencing Neuman’s conviction.
James told the media gathered at the DeKalb County courthouse Thursday afternoon that an arraignment calendar is the next step in the process. If the defendant does not plead guilty at that arraignment calendar, then it would be bound over to a trial calendar “My chief assistant DA Don Geary and I are prepared to move forward with a trial,” James stated.
“Our collective goal is to continue to seek justice and preserve the public safety of our community, not only for the Sneiderman family but for anyone who has lost a loved one because of violent crime,” James said at the press conference. “We will not try this case in the media nor will we discuss the evidence that will be presented at trial.”
The family of Rusty Sneiderman issued a statement Thursday afternoon through their attorney Panitch which said, “The arrest and indictment of Andrea Sneiderman is another important step in the pursuit of justice for Rusty. This action, however, brings us no joy. We thank District Attorney Robert James, ADA Don Geary, Investigator Mark Potter and the rest of their team for their relentless pursuit of the truth in this case and we will continue to support their efforts in every way through the trial. We will never stop fighting for justice for Rusty.”