• Prosecutors try to force hand over of Hemy Neuman psychologist evaluation

    By: Mike Petchenik

    Updated:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga.,None - Prosecutors want to compel a psychologist who evaluated Hemy Neuman to turn over the findings of an evaluation he completed on the murder suspect.

    Neuman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the November 2010 shooting death of Rusty Sneiderman outside Sneiderman's son's day care in Dunwoody.

    Neuman's attorneys have said they have both "expert" and "lay" witnesses who can attest to their defense. Court documents obtained by Channel 2's Mike Petchenik show prosecutors want to know what one such expert, Dr. Peter Thomas, concluded about Neuman's mental health.

    Jail logs obtained through an open records request indicate Thomas spent 5 1/2 hours with Neuman in May. The reason listed on the logs was "testing."

    DeKalb Assistant Chief Prosecutor Don Geary argues in his motion that the discovery and findings of that evaluation were never turned over the state, and because Dr. Thomas completed an evaluation of Neuman, the state should be privy to that information.

    "The prosecutor must believe that the psychiatrist must have done an evaluation that would be harmful to the defense's claim of insanity," said J. Tom Morgan, the former DeKalb District attorney who is now in private practice.

    Morgan told Petchenik that doctor-patient privilege only applies when it comes to the treatment of a patient.

    "However, if you went to a psychiatrist for an evaluation for court or for any other purpose, not for treatment, then it's not privileged," Morgan said.


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    Atlanta criminal defense attorney Manny Arora, who is also not affiliated with the case, told Petchenik that it's common practice for attorneys to search for the best possible witness, and that if one isn't going to say favorable things about a client, a savvy attorney would never put them on the stand.

    "One expert might rule in your favor, another might rule otherwise," he said. "If you were a defense lawyer and you had to turn all that over, then you could really never hire an expert."

    Arora said Neuman's defense attorneys probably have good reason for not disclosing Thomas' findings.

    "If I'm putting this doctor up on the stand, there better be nothing negative he can say and his findings better be rock solid," he said. "If the defense doesn't plan on using him, then I think the defense is absolutely right in not disclosing this information."

    Geary wouldn't comment on the motion, and Neuman attorney Robert Rubin declined to comment about whether he planned to put Thomas on the stand or about why he won't turn over the findings.

    Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence for the East Cobb father. If found not guilty by reason of insanity, Morgan said Neuman would be committed to a mental health facility and could be released if a judge finds him sane.

    Neuman's trial is scheduled for February.

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