by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - The widow accused of conspiring to kill her husband outside a Dunwoody day care is fighting claims she manipulated her boss to be with a third man.
Attorneys for murder suspect Andrea Sneiderman claim prosecutors and a lawyer representing her brother-in-law don’t have the evidence they need to prove their criminal and wrongful death cases against their client, so they’ve resorted to lies to malign her and her supporters.
Sneiderman’s husband, Rusty, was gunned down outside a Dunwoody preschool in November 2010. Her former supervisor, Hemy Neuman, was convicted of pulling the trigger and found mentally ill. Neuman said he was having an affair with her and killed her husband to protect the couple’s two small children.
Recently, lawyers against Sneiderman have thrown another man into the mix. A lawyer for her brother-in-law fired the initial salvo two weeks ago seeking information about Sneiderman’s relationship with a man named Joseph Dell.
In a hearing just days later, Chief Assistant DeKalb County Prosecutor Don Geary revealed that criminal investigators were also looking into the nature of the relationship as evidence of a possible new motive in the murder case.
"Evidence is starting to come up that might show it was not for Mr. Neuman to be (with) the defendant, but for someone else,” Geary said. “Mr. Dell might be that someone else."
On Monday, Judge Gregory Adams banned Sneiderman from contact with Dell because he’s now listed as a witness in her murder case.
Sneiderman’s civil attorney, Mark Trigg, called the allegation false and baseless. The pointed responses came in the form of a court motion filed in the wrongful death lawsuit against her, filed by her brother-in-law, Steve Sneiderman. He is being represented by attorney Esther Panitch.
“Plaintiff’s motion is rife with false allegations and unsupported inferences designed to embarrass and harass both Mrs. Sneiderman and …. Joseph Dell,” wrote Trigg.
He responded to Panitch’s inquiry by asserting that Dell and Sneiderman didn’t engage in a sexual relationship prior to his divorce earlier this year. Trigg admitted that Dell did tell Andrea he loved her during a jailhouse conversation while she was incarcerated, but maintains their relationship has no bearing on the case. Trigg also denied claims the couple have been living together.
In his response, Trigg characterized Panitch’s motion and the assistant District Attorney’s statement as “an ongoing effort to try Mrs. Sneiderman in the media and to taint any jury that may ultimately hear this case.”
Trigg also argues that prosecutors and Panitch have changed their theory about the murder motive because they don’t have evidence to support what’s in the original indictment and wrongful death lawsuit: claims that Sneiderman manipulated Neuman into killing her husband so the two could live together off the proceeds from Sneiderman’s life insurance policies.
“The new theory is just as wrong as was their original theory, for one reason: Mrs. Sneiderman was not a co-conspirator in her husband’s murder,” wrote Trigg.
The motion also raises concerns that the new theory might incite Neuman, whom Trigg wrote is “obsessed” with his client.
The tactic is “an effort to manipulate Mr. Neuman so that he will fall into a jealous rage, decide to no longer tell the truth in this regard, and finally provide something that so far is completely lacking: any direct evidence that Andrea Sneiderman was a co-conspirator in her husband’s murder,” according to Trigg.
Trigg’s motion also asks a judge to sanction Panitch for what he calls misreprpesentations of the facts to the court and for violating rules for exchanging evidence with opposing counsel. Panitch told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik that request is part of a “coordinated effort” by Sneiderman’s camp to malign her personally, and that she intended to file a motion to rebut Trigg’s complaint.
Ken Hodges, a former prosecutor who isn’t related to this case, told Petchenik the tenor of the court filings shows how high the emotions are in the case.
“It looks like it’s going to be fairly acrimonious, not only between the parties but between the lawyers, which is unfortunate,” he said.
Hodges told Petchenik the sudden change in course of the case signals there could be a problem.
“It tells me they don’t have a solid ground for the evidence they were pursuing under the first theory,” he said. “It tells me that the plaintiffs in this case, in the wrongful action, are looking for the smoking gun and they haven’t found it yet.”