ATLANTA — The Georgia Supreme Court announces it has reversed the conviction of Hemy Neuman, who was found guilty but mentally ill of the 2010 murder of Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody day care center.
In the 6-to-1 decision, the high court ruled that while the evidence "was sufficient to enable a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Neuman was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted," it must reverse Neuman's conviction because the trial judge erred by allowing in as evidence the notes and records of two mental health experts who examined Neuman before trial.
Doctors Julie Rand Dorney and Peter Thomas evaluated Neuman for the defense team. But the defense used other experts at trial and said Neuman spoke to Rand Dorney and Thomas in confidence. The judge allowed prosecutors to use those doctors' notes anyway, including this key testimony from Thomas.
Defense attorneys argued his findings about Neuman's sanity fell under attorney client privilege because the attorneys hired him. Now the Georgia Supreme Court has agreed, saying only doctors who previously treated insanity defendants have to make their notes public.
The Court added that the evidence to convict Neuman was sufficient but said it had to reverse the case anyway.
“Because the trial court erred in admitting evidence, which was protected by the attorney-client privilege, we now reverse,” Justice Carol Hunstein writes for the majority.
The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office says it intends to retry Neuman.
"Once the case is remanded back to Judge Adams, his office will place the case on a trial calendar. The State will be prepared to retry the case as set by Judge Adams. Since Mr. Neuman’s request for bond was denied prior to trial, he will remain in custody. Mr. Neuman would have the right to seek reconsideration of the denial of his bond at which time it would be up to Judge Adams to grant or deny such request."
The new trial will likely not include rusty Sneiderman's wife, Andrea, who was later convicted of perjury from her time on the stand during Neuman's original trial.
A jury convicted Neuman in 2012 of killing his alleged mistress’ husband, Rusty Sneiderman.
Testimony from Andrea Sneiderman was pivotal in the case as both defense and prosecution lawyers stated that her affair was the motive for Rusty Sneiderman’s murder.
On the stand, Sneiderman denied the affair with Neuman, who was her boss at GE Energy. She also misled Dunwoody police right after the shooting.
Neuman admitted shooting Rusty Sneiderman, but argued that he didn’t know right from wrong at the time due to mental illness.
Sneiderman was released from prison in 2014.
Sneiderman's appeals attorney, Brian Steel, told Channel 2's Mike Petchenik: "A great Opinion by a great Court. I hope that the Court of Appeals of Georgia reverses Ms. Sneiderman's convictions and sentences."