DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams signed an order last week resetting the murder trial of Hemy Neuman from October 17 to next February. Neuman is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to killing Rusty Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody day care facility last November.
The order signed by the judge lists as the reason for the delay “so that all psychological evaluations in the case may be completed,” indicating the judge plans to have a court appointed mental health expert evaluate Neuman.
But the next day the defense attorneys for Neuman offered a motion to rescind the judge’s order resetting the trial date and stating Neuman had no intention of being evaluated by the court-appointed psychiatrist.
Defense attorneys argue their client doesn’t have to talk with a court-appointed mental health expert since he has been interviewed by a psychiatrist for the prosecution.
In response to Neuman changing his plea last month—from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity—the state filed an emergency motion to have an expert examine Neuman.
Neuman submitted to an interview during the week of October 3 with a psychiatrist brought in by the District Attorney’s office. On October 6, the District Attorney’s office also filed a motion for “information, documents and recordings relevant to defendant’s claim of insanity.”
Even though Neuman has been examined by mental health experts for the District Attorney’s office and the defense team, under state law, the court can also bring in a third-party expert to conduct an evaluation of a defendant’s mental state.
A court-appointed mental health expert—one independent of experts for the DeKalb District Attorney’s office and the defense team—has not yet been able to examine Neuman, who acknowledged shooting Sneiderman when he changed his plea.
Judge Adams postponed the trial, which was originally scheduled to start October 17. It was not immediately clear as to whether the judge made the decision on his own or whether he was acting in response to a request from the District Attorney’s office.
In the motion filed Oct. 6 by the defense to retain a October 17 trial start date, they argue that while Neuman gives up some of his Fifth Amendment rights by allowing the state conduct an expert examination, the law “does not require a defendant to cooperate with the court’s expert and provides no sanctions against a defendant who refuses to so cooperate.”
The defense motion goes on to state, “In this case, the Defendant retains his Fifth Amendment rights, and does not intend to waive those rights beyond what is required to give the state a fair opportunity to present its own expert testimony. Accordingly, there will be no examination and report generated by a court-appointed psychologist or psychiatrist,” the motion states.
The District Attorney’s October 6 motion says that during an evaluation interview with Neuman by a mental health expert appointed by the DeKalb County on October 5, Neuman said he had received psychological services and treatment in December 2010 from a mental health provider. However, according to the motion, Neuman declined to name the provider without permission from his attorneys.
The December 2010 psychological services Neuman said he received, would have been prior to Neuman being considered a suspect in the murder and his subsequent arrest and being January 6. The state’s motion apparently seeks to obtain information from that examination and from any defense expert’s examination.
When defense attorney Doug Peters changed Neuman’s plea last month, he said of the attack, “The issue is not what happened, but why it happened.” Peters said that claiming that Neuman’s mental illness made him unable to differentiate between right and wrong at the time of the shooting.
If the defense is successful in getting a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, Neuman would become a ward of the state mental health system. A jury also could find Neuman guilty but mentally ill. In that case, Neuman would become a Georgia Department of Corrections inmate, where he would receive treatment for his mental sickness.
Neuman remains in the DeKalb County jail, where he has been since he was arrested and charged January 6 with felony murder and also possession of a knife and firearm while in the act of committing a felony crime. It is expected he will remain in jail until his trial is completed and the verdict and sentence are rendered.