Hemy Neuman’s estranged wife was called by the prosecution to testify Wednesday during a DeKalb County Superior Court motions hearing in the murder last November of Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman in at a daycare center in Dunwoody.
It was the first time they had come face-to-face since Neuman was arrested in early January.
Ariela Neuman avoided eye contact with her husband during her brief testimony about the serving of a search warrant by Dunwoody police at the couple’s Cobb County home on January 4, the day Neuman was arrested and charged in Sneiderman’s murder.
Neuman, the alleged killer, also seemed surprised at the presence of his wife in the courtroom when she was called to the stand by DeKalb assistant district attorney Don Geary, the lead prosecutor in the murder trial. Prosecutors are not required to supply witness lists for preliminary hearings such as the one Wednesday.
Although still married to Neuman, Ariela Neuman obtained a legal separation from her husband of 22 years in a civil action earlier this summer. She was represented in that civil case by Dunwoody attorney Esther Panitch, who also was in the courtroom for the motions hearing.
Panitch, has repeatedly stated that her client believes her husband and Andrea Sneiderman, the wife of the victim Rusty Sneiderman, were having an affair in the months leading up to the shooting. Neuman was Andrea Sneiderman’s supervisor at GE Energy in Cobb County.
Ariela Neuman was called to testify because Neuman’s defense attorneys, Bob Rubin and Doug Peters, had challenged that particular search warrant, as well as several others obtained by the Dunwoody police and the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office during the investigation to seize Hemy Neuman’s personal computer, iPad and iPhone.
Rubin challenged during the motion hearing whether the Dunwoody police had coerced Neuman’s wife into allowing them to search the home prior to the search warrant being signed and presented to her.
"I gave [police] permission to take everything they want," testified Ariela Neuman, who said she learned of her husband's arrest from Dunwoody police. She said she gave the police “full permission to search the house” and she testified she “never withdrew” that permission at any time.
She testified that she told the Dunwoody police officers they did not have to wait for the search warrant to arrive and be shown to her, but the police did not search the house until they had the search warrant in hand and had presented it to her.
Ariela Neuman said her husband moved out of their Cobb County home in October but that he used to return there every weekend, and sometimes during the week, when she was not home. She said he had a key and remote control for entry to the home and that he still had clothes and other personal items at the home, although he was living in an apartment in Buckhead.
Ariela Neuman could not recall all of the items the police took from her home that night in January, but she did recall they took the family’s computer from the family room, and a computer flash drive that was located either in their bedroom (on a nightstand on Neuman’s side of their marital bed) or in the family’s office just off of their bedroom.
She could not recall if the police had given her a list of all of the items they had taken.
Defense attorney Rubin challenged almost every search warrant on the basis there was “no probable cause” for the issuance of the warrants, because the warrants did not specify what the investigators were specifically looking for and expected to find and also on the basis of time lapse between when Neuman was arrested and when some of the search warrants were issued.
Rubin claimed some of the warrants were representative of “the classic definition of a general warrant.” He cited “staleness and lack of nexus” with the warrants, meaning they did not specifically tie things such as computers, iPads, iPhones, etc. specifically to the commission of the crime when the warrants were issued.
Most of the warrants issued were similar in that they sought some sort of data from devices.
Geary countered in almost every instance stating, “We normally search because we don’t know what is there. We are searching these items for evidence connected to the crime,” evidence, he said, they normally would not be aware of before conducting the search.
As for the argument of “staleness,” Geary said, “Staleness goes to perishable items. There are things that can be there for the finding years later.”
DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams requested that the attorneys on both sides provide written arguments on those motions to him by noon on August 31. “I like to do reading during lunchtime,” the judge quipped.
Neuman’s trial for murder and possession of a lethal weapon during the commission of a felony is scheduled to begin in Judge Adams’ courtroom on October 17. It is possible it could last long enough to reach the one-year anniversary of Rusty Sneiderman’s murder on November 18.