More than a decade after the shooting of Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman in Dunwoody, the man convicted of his murder may be at the end of his legal journey. On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the 2016 murder and illegal firearm possession convictions against Hemy Neuman. The ruling was unanimous.
“Everyone is relieved,” said attorney Esther Panitch. She was specifically referring to Neuman’s ex-wife Ariela, whom Panitch represented, and more generally, the Atlanta Jewish community, which was divided by the brutal killing. “It is time for Hemy’s victims to have peace and never have to hear his name again.”
Members of the Jewish Atlanta previously expressed how the community had been victimized by the slaying of Sneiderman on Nov. 10, 2010, outside the Dunwoody preschool where he had dropped off his child. Friendships were broken. Threats and accusations were hurled against attorneys and one prominent Atlanta Jewish leader at the time, who did not want to be named, told the AJT that “it was a painful episode in the history of the Jewish community. It divided the whole community.”
Both the Sneiderman and Neuman families were active members in the Atlanta Jewish community. They became entwined because Sneiderman’s wife Andrea worked for Neuman at GE Energy. She was accused of helping Neuman kill her husband because of an alleged affair between her and Neuman. She eventually served 10 months of a five-year sentence after being found guilty of perjury and obstructing the apprehension of a killer. But murder charges against her were dropped.
“This community lived” the trauma of the murder and its aftereffects, Panitch said. “There are people who will always be fascinated by the story, especially because Andrea continues to live in the community. She has no shame in her role in her husband’s murder.”
More than once, Panitch has received photos of sightings of Andrea Sneiderman, who has since changed her name. Panitch, of Panitch Law Group, handles domestic violence and murder cases. However, she represented Neuman’s ex-wife – who has also changed her name – in her divorce case against Neuman, and she represented the family of the deceased in a wrongful death case against Andrea Sneiderman.
Asked whether the divisions in the Jewish community still exist, Panitch noted that “multiple friends of Andrea’s have hired me to handle family matters. These are people who wouldn’t go to a party if I was there, and they have since hired me. These are people who used to support Andrea.” They first apologized to Panitch for their past shunning of her, she said.
The latest ruling follows a hearing before the Georgia Supreme Court on Sept. 16. Neuman’s public defender had claimed that his client deserved a new trial. Israeli-born Neuman was convicted after his first trial in 2012, being found guilty but mentally ill. But three years later, Georgia’s Supreme Court reversed that conviction because they said evidence that violated his attorney-client privilege should not have been admitted into evidence. In 2016, Neuman was retried and again found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
This time the court refused to overturn the decision. His public defender “respectfully declined to comment” to AJT’s request for a statement.
According to Panitch, “this is the end of any direct appeals” about trial issues by Neuman. He could allege a violation of a constitutional right under a habeas corpus, but “this would be the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary,” she said. If he decided to take that action, however, he wouldn’t be provided a state-appointed lawyer. “Anything he would do would be on his own dime.”
Up until now, he hasn’t had anything to lose by filing lawsuits, she said of Neuman, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole. “If I were locked up for the rest of my life, I would try to get out. I don’t expect him to have an epiphany that he deserves to stay in jail. That’s part of his narcissism.”
Panitch said that Neuman’s ex-wife is “doing okay. She’s still at The Epstein School, although she’s no longer teaching. She has the most incredible work ethic. She’s maybe missed a couple of days of work, when she had to be in court. Many people would have locked themselves up away from the world.” The Neuman children are now adults, but Panitch wouldn’t speak for them.
For herself, however, Panitch stated emphatically, “I hope I never have to hear Hemy Neuman’s name again.”