Associated Press Writer
DECATUR — A defense attorney for Andrea Sneiderman said the prosecution put on a “well-edited TV show” for the jury but failed to prove the Georgia woman did anything wrong, while a prosecutor repeated over and over that she did.
The defense and prosecution attacked each other’s witnesses and led jurors during closing arguments Thursday step by step through the indictment, each asking them to reach a different conclusion. Jurors were to begin deliberating after getting instructions from the judge.
Defense attorney Tom Clegg reminded the jury that the state had the obligation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sneiderman lied, that the jurors can’t just rely on a feeling. DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James fell back on the prosecution’s argument from its opening statement — that the case centers on “a forbidden romance that ends in murder” — and said the 37-year-old Sneiderman lies every time she opens her mouth.
Rusty Sneiderman, 36, was fatally shot in November 2010 outside a suburban Atlanta preschool. Andrea Sneiderman’s former boss, Hemy Neuman, was convicted in the killing in March 2012, but found to be mentally ill.
Prosecutors allege in a 13-count indictment that Sneiderman, 37, lied to police investigating her husband’s killing and under oath during Neuman’s trial last year. She told DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams that she did not wish to take the stand in her own defense.
Prosecutors played numerous video clips of Sneiderman’s interviews with police and her testimony during Neuman’s trial, and called witnesses and presented documents that they said contradicted her statements. The defense called numerous character witnesses who talked about how happy Andrea and Rusty Sneiderman were and tried to discredit prosecution witnesses.
Clegg said that whether or not Neuman and Sneiderman had a romantic relationship is irrelevant — though he was quick to add that they didn’t — concealing it would not be a crime since police didn’t ask her about it.
When Sneiderman was arrested just over a year ago, prosecutors accused her of orchestrating her husband’s death. They initially charged her with murder. But on 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 as the reason for dropping the charges.
Clegg said the prosecution had a weak case on the perjury and false statement charges but was “desperate to convict her of something.” He went through the indictment and tried to convince the jury there was insufficient evidence on each count.
James repeatedly addressed Sneiderman directly during his closing argument.
“You’re a liar! You are a liar!” he yelled on one occasion, standing just feet away from Sneiderman and pointing directly at her.
James accused Clegg of trying to mislead and “bamboozle” the jury and walked the panelists through the indictment, reminding them of evidence and testimony presented during the trial that he said proved the charges against Sneiderman.
He played a video clip of Sneiderman being interviewed by police and saying, “I don’t think this Hemy thing is anything.”
“She was telling a lie, and that makes her guilty of a crime,” James said.
He relied on two refrains, repeating them throughout his argument: “If it’s a lie, she’s guilty.” and “Her words. Her lies. Her guilt.”