Andrea Sneiderman trial: Did infidelity lead to murder?
ATLANTA (CNN) — Did a Georgia mother conspire with her boss to have her husband murdered?
That’s the case against Andrea Sneiderman, who is likely to go in front of a jury in August. Sneiderman is charged in the slaying of her husband, Rusty Sneiderman, who was shot and killed execution-style in front of their son’s day care center in suburban Atlanta in 2010.
Sneiderman’s boss, Hemy Neuman, was found guilty of the crime, but mentally ill in 2012. Neuman said an angel sent him on a mission to kill Rusty Sneiderman. But during the course of the trial, both Neuman’s defense lawyers and the prosecution agreed on one thing: Andrea Sneiderman had a hand in the murder, too.
She now faces 16 counts, including felony murder, in connection with the shooting. She has entered a plea of not guilty, with her lawyers issuing a statement saying she “categorically” denies each and “every one of the charges” filed against her.
But if the allegations are true, what could have possibly driven Sneiderman to have any part in her husband’s murder — or to carry on an affair with Neuman, as has been alleged? Court testimony in Neuman’s trial and family interviews in the media portray Rusty Sneiderman as a man who served on the boards of nonprofits and always wanted to help others. He even tried to help advance Andrea Sneiderman’s career.
But testimony from forensic psychiatrist Dr. Tracey Marks, a witness for the defense, shed a different light on their relationship, some of the nature of which was gleaned from e-mails.
“The e-mails between Hemy and Andrea were also discussing how there was tension in Andrea’s home between her and her husband,” Marks testified. “She was dissatisfied to say the least with his involvement with taking care of the children or even offering her support to be able to help with the children while she worked.”
Was that — or anything else — enough to lead Sneiderman into the arms of Neuman, as prosecutors claim?
Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry is a sex therapist who has practiced for 13 years, and though she has not treated either party in this case, she says there are common characteristics many people share: “In general, people cheat because they are looking to fulfill something that is missing in their primary relationship. That could range from feelings of excitement, lust, a more robust sexual experience or simply a need to feel cared about or loved.”
For her part, Sneiderman has denied the prosecutor’s claims that she ever cheated on her husband.
But testimony during Neuman’s trial called the nature of their relationship into question, outlining how the pair’s relationship evolved over the course of six months. Witnesses said Sneiderman and Neuman traveled the country together and exchanged hundreds of e-mails. Marks testified that if anyone knew Neuman was delusional, it would be Sneiderman.
“We don’t know if she was able to predict what Mr. Neuman ultimately did, but we can say that if she had handled things differently in her relationship with him (and with her husband, for that matter), Rusty may indeed be alive today,” Henry told HLN in an interview.
According to court testimony, the pair went on several work-related trips together, and it was on a trip to Norfolk, Virginia — their second — that Neuman began to feel a special connection with Sneiderman, sharing with her the hard times he had growing up at a boarding school. But it wasn’t until the third trip to Minden, Nevada, in mid-July that he first revealed his fondness for her, Sneiderman testified. She also told the court that following wine and dinner, he read her a love poem, insinuating that she was beautiful.
According to testimony from Marks, Neuman says he gave Sneiderman a foot massage, but she made it clear she would not leave her husband. She did tell him she fantasized about him, according to Marks.
“Although both admitted that she repeatedly told him she had no intention of leaving her husband, her actions provided encouragement to his inappropriate advances,” Henry told HLN.
The court heard testimony that their next trip took them to Colorado, where Neuman tried to get the hotel staff to buy chocolates and flowers to leave in her room, but he settled on a note instead. According to the front desk manager at a Hampton Inn, Sneiderman requested a room change. When she checked in on July 18 she had a room with two queen beds, but on the 21st she requested a room with one bed for two guests, the manager testified.
On August 26, 2010, the pair traveled to Greenville, South Carolina, where the two got adjoining rooms and drank wine and watched a movie together while on the same bed in their pajamas, according to courtroom testimony. The next day, Sneiderman told Neuman she felt terrible and that she would have to “repent” for the rest of her life.
“When the immediate gratification of the affair wears off, many are left with the aftermath, the devastation that their affair has caused, and they can find it quite difficult to live with,” Henry told HLN. “This inability to cope can lead to anything from denial, depression, anxiety, lashing out at others and even lashing out at oneself, which could unfortunately include self-harming behaviors.”
A few days later, on August 29, Neuman asked Sneiderman in an e-mail to marry him.
The pair traveled to Scotland and Greenville, South Carolina, a second time before Rusty Sneiderman’s murder, according to court testimony. It was during their second trip to South Carolina, a local bartender testified, that he saw them dancing and kissing.
A therapist testified that Neuman said the pair were in fact physically intimate and that the next day, Sneiderman again told Neuman she would not leave her husband and expressed regret. But in testimony, Sneiderman denied kissing or being in any way physically intimate with Neuman.
“This type of back and forth can be very confusing, especially when directed towards someone who has romantic feelings for you,” Henry said.” When in love, we want so desperately for things to work out, for love to prevail over all. I don’t know that we have evidence of a conversation between Neuman and Sneiderman where they plotted and planned for Hemy to take Rusty’s life. What I think is clear is that Sneiderman led Neuman, consciously or unconsciously, to believe that there was potential for a relationship in the future.”
According to testimony and e-mails revealed in court, while Neuman shared his feelings for Sneiderman, she shared hundreds of photos of her children with him, but Rusty Sneiderman is not in any of the photos.
“Whether Sneiderman knew of his delusion or not, I find it highly inappropriate for a mother to send this many pictures of her underage children to her boss,” Henry said. “I can’t think of any scenario where that would be appropriate, especially without my husband’s knowledge.”
So what does all this behavior add up to?
“The fact that she never went to HR” — the company’s Human Resources Department — “that she never told her husband about Hemy’s advances, the fact that she engaged her husband in a relationship with Mr. Neuman, all speak to a destructive pattern of seeking the attention, affection and insatiable needs of someone other than her husband.”
Will this and other testimony lead jurors to convict Sneiderman in her husband’s murder? Jury selection begins July 29, and HLN will take viewers inside the courtroom then.
By Anna Gonzalez
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