Ga. woman convicted of perjury in husband’s death
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — The Georgia woman accused of lying to investigators about the death of her husband was convicted of perjury and several other counts today.
Andrea Sneiderman’s husband, Rusty Sneiderman, was shot in November 2010 outside a suburban Atlanta preschool. Her former boss Hemy Neuman was convicted in March 2012 but was found mentally ill.
Prosecutors accused Sneiderman of lying to police investigating her husband’s death and lying under oath during Neuman’s trial. The 13-count indictment included charges of making false statements, hindering an investigation and perjury.
Jurors got the case Thursday and deliberated all day Friday before leaving without a verdict. They returned for additional deliberations Monday and delivered the verdict after more than three hours.
Sneiderman was found guilty of four counts of perjury, hindering the apprehension of a criminal, concealment of material facts, and three counts of giving false statements. She was found not guilty of three counts of perjury and one count of giving a false statement.
Prosecutors maintained that Sneiderman was having a romantic relationship with Neuman and that she repeatedly lied about the relationship, which they said hindered the investigation into her husband’s death. Sneiderman and her defense team repeatedly denied that there was a romantic relationship and said police bungled the investigation by not focusing on Neuman even after she mentioned him to them.
Sneiderman’s defense has said prosecutors had a weak case but were desperate to convict Sneiderman of something.
Lawyers on both sides declined to comment after Monday’s verdict, citing a gag order in the case. Both sides said they’d comment after Sneiderman’s sentencing.
Perjury carries a maximum sentence in Georgia of 10 years in prison, while the other charges carry a maximum of five years each. There is no mandatory minimum. The judge has broad discretion and can also choose to have the sentences run consecutively or concurrently.
Judge Gregory Adams set Sneiderman’s sentencing for 9 a.m. Tuesday and said she had 30 days to file her notice of intent to appeal. Sneiderman was taken into custody shortly afterward.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors played and replayed video and audio clips of Sneiderman’s interviews with police investigators and her testimony during Neuman’s trial. They contrasted that with witness testimony and documents that they said proved she had lied to police and the court.
The defense called a string of character witnesses who testified that Andrea and Rusty Sneiderman had a happy and loving relationship. They also called experts to refute some of the documents and evidence presented by the prosecution.
Jurors reviewed all the evidence, including emails and phone logs, and concluded that Sneiderman and Neuman were having some sort of a romantic relationship and that she lied about it, said one juror who spoke to reporters after the verdict but identified himself only as Juror No. 57.
“Once you actually got to looking at the info and what she said in the Hemy Neuman trial, she basically pretty much committed perjury,” he said.
Andrea Sneiderman showed little emotion as the verdict was read. Her mother sobbed outside the courtroom afterward and left the courthouse in tears.
Sneiderman, 37, of Decatur, was arrested last August after prosecutors accused her of helping to orchestrate the killing of her husband. She spent much of the last year under house arrest. Lawyers for both sides had for months been planning for a trial on one count each of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault, and other charges.
But on July 26 — the eve of jury selection — DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James took the unusual step of asking the judge to dismiss the murder and aggravated assault charges. James cited his recent review of evidence the defense turned over as part of pre-trial discovery.
Thomas Clegg, one of Sneiderman’s lead attorneys, balked at the explanation. “I believe they have known all along that they didn’t have a murder case,” he said in open court. The judge granted James’ request before the start of jury selection and released Sneiderman from house arrest.