March 15, 2012 — -- A Georgia judge today sentenced Hemy Neuman to life in prison without parole for the murder of father and entrepreneur Rusty Sneiderman.
Dekalb County Judge Gregory Adams made the ruling minutes after Neuman, 49, expressed his apologies for Sneiderman's death.
Adams called Sneiderman's death "a planned execution."
"I fully understand you're sorry but this was by your hands," Adams said, noting that Neuman had attended Sneiderman's funeral. "His family can decide if they'll accept [your] words 15 months after the shooting."
The judge said Neuman has a right to appeal, and a lawyer for Neuman said he planned to.
A jury found Hemy Neuman guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt but mentally ill." The "mentally ill" designation means Neuman will receive mental health treatment in prison. The jury forewoman was in tears as she read the verdict earlier this afternoon.
Neuman was also found guilty of possession of a gun during a felony murder.
Neuman admitted to gunning down Sneiderman, 36, in the parking lot outside Sneiderman's son's suburban Atlanta nursery school but pled not guilty by reason of insanity. Rusty Sneiderman was married to Andrea Sneiderman, who had once been Neuman's employee at GE Energy.
At the sentencing hearing this afternoon, Neuman called Sneiderman's death a "terrible tragedy," and expressed his apologies to Sneiderman's family, including his two children and wife Andrea.
"He was a good man with so much ahead. I'm so, so, so sorry for their loss," he said.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers alleged that Andrea Sneiderman had an affair with Neuman and played a role in her husband's death in November 2010. Sneiderman has denied having a romantic relationship with Neuman. She has not been charged with any crime but recently hired two attorneys.
The jury had been deliberating since Monday, when prosecutors and the defense presented their closing arguments.
Experts for the defense testified that Neuman was legally insane. Dr. Adriana Flores, a forensic psychologist, said last week that Neuman had suffered undiagnosed and untreated bipolar disorder with psychosis since his early teens. She said Neuman experienced delusions, and had erotomania, meaning that he thought he was having an affair with Andrea Sneiderman, the wife of victim Rusty Sneiderman.
During the trial, Neuman's attorneys said that he was visited by an angel whose voice sounded like that of singer Olivia Newton-John and a demon whose voice was similar to singer Barry White's. While the demon encouraged Neuman to commit suicide, the angel told Neuman that Rusty Sneiderman's children were his and that he needed to protect them by killing Rusty Sneiderman, his attorneys said.
But state psychiatrist Pamela Crawford said she believed Neuman was faking his symptoms.
"His discussion of [the demons] was inconsistent," Crawford testified. "At one point he says, 'I know they are not real,' then later says, 'I just want the demons to go away.' He's not even consistent in the same interview."
The prosecution argued that Neuman could decipher the difference between right and wrong. "The defendant is serving up an insanity sandwich and he's been serving it up since 2010 and he wants you to eat it," District Attorney Robert James told the jury.
James called Rusty Sneiderman a good man and a good husband.
"He did not deserve this. Rusty deserved to be alive. A wife that honored him. To see his children grow up, not to be shot down in the street like a stray dog," he said.