Hemy Neuman appears to believe in the old adage: If first you don’t succeed, try, try again. On Sept. 16, a public defender representing Neuman, convicted of shooting and killing his lover’s husband, claimed that his client deserves a new trial. This hearing had been scheduled for April but had been delayed because of COVID-19.
Neuman was convicted after his first trial in 2012, found guilty but mentally ill. Three years later, Georgia’s Supreme Court – where the latest hearing occurred – 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.
“Appealing a life sentence is normal as he has nothing better to do and it costs him nothing,” said attorney Esther Panitch, who represented Neuman’s ex-wife. “I am hopeful nothing will come of this appeal and the Supreme Court judges didn’t seem persuaded by his lawyer’s argument,” she told the AJT after virtually observing the hearing. “But he won a new trial last time, so I don’t make predictions.”
Panitch added that “this is likely the end of his appellate remedies if he loses.”
While appealing a life sentence may be normal, this case has had an atypical impact on the Atlanta Jewish community for the last decade, partly but not entirely, because most of the main actors are Jewish.
There’s no argument that Neuman killed businessman Rusty Sneiderman in 2010 after the latter dropped off his young child at a daycare center in Dunwoody. There’s also no disagreement that Neuman worked together with Sneiderman’s wife at GE Energy. The relationship between Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman, however, has been bitterly argued both in the courtroom and among the Atlanta Jewish community for years.
Once accused of helping Neuman kill her husband, Andrea Sneiderman eventually served 10 months of a five-year sentence after being found guilty of perjury and obstructing the apprehension of a killer. Murder charges against her were dropped. That hasn’t stopped the ongoing controversy and speculative conversation about the sensational case.
As the AJT reported in July 2019: “Long-term friendships were broken as members of the Jewish community were called to testify both for the prosecution and the defense in the 2012 trial. Threats and hate mail were sent to one of the attorneys involved. Now unhealed wounds are being ripped open once again with the latest legal maneuvers.”
Panitch told the AJT a day after the latest hearing that she’s not surprised that this case is still getting attention. “I still get asked questions by people who knew I was involved, even after all these years. I think it’s likely because people believe, including myself, that Andrea got away with murder and still lives amongst the community as if nothing has happened.”
All the actors in this drama had been well-established members of the Atlanta Jewish community, including Israeli-born Neuman and his now ex-wife Ariela – who reverted to her maiden name Barkoni. Ariela had been a teacher at The Epstein School. The Sneidermans were members of Congregation Or Hadash.
Panitch, of Panitch Law Group, who generally handles domestic violence and murder cases, not only represented Neuman’s ex-wife in her divorce from Neuman. She also represented the family of the deceased in a wrongful death case against Andrea Sneiderman, who has also since changed her name. Panitch recalls the painful environment in the Atlanta Jewish community for years after the murder. “First of all, it was a Jewish man murdering another Jewish man in front of his kid’s daycare. Then sides were quickly taken” once details of the affair became public knowledge.
Another prominent Atlanta Jewish leader at the time, who did not want to be named, told the AJT last year that “it was a very painful episode in the history of the Jewish community in Atlanta that broke long-term friendships. It divided the whole community.”
Panitch recounted last year how she and her family were targeted by Andrea Sneiderman’s friends. “I was the only voice out there calling attention to Andrea’s involvement. I was the target of hate,” she said. Community members sent a letter to The Epstein School, where her children were enrolled, asking that the school remove her from the “educational community. I was brought into the principal’s office and told not to talk about the case. Once Andrea’s involvement came out, I received an apology” from the school.
Neuman is now incarcerated at the Augusta State Medical Prison. Efforts to reach his attorney, Michael Tarleton, were unsuccessful. Tarleton is a criminal appeals attorney with the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council Appellate Division.