DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — The victim was a Harvard-educated businessman who was shot to death minutes after he dropped his son off at a suburban Atlanta day care center. The alleged killer was a successful engineer and father of three who lived in an affluent subdivision.
Hemy Neuman faces life in prison if he's convicted of the November 2010 shooting death of Russell Sneiderman. His trial begins Monday. Defense attorneys argue Neuman, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, was incapable of telling the difference between right and wrong when he pulled the trigger.
At the center of the trial is Sneiderman's wife, Andrea, who could be called to testify by both prosecutors and defense attorneys. Investigators linked the shooting in a court filing to an "extramarital affair between the defendant and Andrea Sneiderman."
The two knew each other through Neuman's work at General Electric, where he was Andrea's supervisor. Her attorney has declined to address allegations of an affair, and Andrea Sneiderman has said she considered Neuman a family friend.
Attorneys were set to sort through dozens of potential jurors on Monday for the trial, which is expected to last a few weeks. No matter the outcome, Neuman won't be a free man. If he's found not guilty by reason of insanity, Neuman will be turned over to Georgia's mental health system.
Sneiderman died Nov. 19, 2010, after dropping off his 2-year-old son at the day care center in Dunwoody, a suburb northeast of Atlanta. A bearded man in a hoodie approached Sneiderman, fired several shots and then hopped into a silver minivan and sped away.
It happened so quickly police initially believed it could have been a professional job, noting that no words were exchanged when Sneiderman was killed.
Sneiderman was a 36-year-old ambitious entrepreneur who graduated from Indiana University, married his college girlfriend and earned his MBA from Harvard. They settled in Dunwoody, where they planned to raise their two children.
"Our family has lost its brightest light, and we don't know why," his brother, Steve Sneiderman, said days after the killing. "Can you imagine that?"
Neuman, who was born in Mexico and went to school in Israel, wasn't interviewed by police until about six weeks after Sneiderman's death. He was charged after detectives discovered he rented a silver minivan shortly before the shooting that matched the description of a vehicle seen driving away from the scene.
Andrea Sneiderman, for her part, has been tightlipped about her relationship with Neuman. She released a brief statement to media a year ago that said she was shocked to learn of Neuman's arrest.
"I have been assured by the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office that Mr. Neuman is Rusty's killer and that they will do everything in their power to bring him to justice," she said in the statement. "My family and I are cooperating in any way we can to assist them in their efforts."
Andrea's attorney, Seth Kirschenbaum, didn't return calls seeking comment, but he has said his client is relieved Neuman admitted to the killing.
"This was a cold-blooded, premeditated murder," he said. "However, hopefully the prosecution is ready to rebut Mr. Neuman's insanity defense."
Neuman, a Georgia Tech graduate, lived in a pricey home in a Cobb County subdivision. He worked at General Electric, where he supervised Andrea. He is the father of three children. His estranged wife Ariela has hired an attorney who plans to be at the trial on her client's behalf.
Neuman's defense attorneys have said they will seek to get jurors to set aside their emotions and focus on the testimony by expert witnesses who have studied Neuman's actions. They say they have gathered ample evidence backing their claim that he is not guilty by reason of insanity.
"This case is not about whether or not he pulled the trigger. He is the one who did the shooting," defense attorney Doug Peters said in an interview. The question the jury must answer, he said, is "what was his mental capacity at the time?"
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