Today the trial of Andrea Sneiderman ended where it began—on the witness stand of Courtroom 5-D at the DeKalb County Courthouse. There clad in jailhouse orange, she sobbed and begged Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams for leniency: “Please let me go home.”
Instead, Adams sentenced Sneiderman to five years in prison, less than twenty-four hours after a jury convicted her of perjury and making false statements to police.
The last time Sneiderman had spoken publicly, it was from that very seat in March 2012, as a witness for the prosecution against Hemy Neuman, her former boss, who had gunned down her husband, Rusty Sneiderman, in front of a Dunwoody daycare in November 2010. At that time, the grieving widow turned defiant as both the defense and the prosecution cornered her, alleging she and Neuman had had an affair and questioning how much she had known of his plans to gun down her husband. And even though Sneiderman declined to testify during her own trial, video of her snippy and indignant testimony was played repeatedly to the jury as evidence of her lying under oath about sharing a hotel room with Neuman while on a business trip and kissing him at a bar. “I was shocked when prosecutors began attacking me,” she said today. “Without lawyers to object…I fought back and tried to defend myself. I am embarrassed when I watch the tape of my testimony.”
But as DeKalb District Attorney Robert James pointed out, her tearful explanation did not include any acknowledgement of, much less an apology for, any wrongdoing. That’s why James recommended twenty years in jail on her nine convictions of perjury and misleading investigators. Adams showed some leniency in running the five-year sentences for each charge concurrently, minus the time she has already spent on house arrest. Plus, the judge sentenced her as a first offender, meaning that eventually the conviction could be stricken from her official criminal history. Sneiderman was led away, expressionless in shackles and cuffs. Her lawyers have said they will appeal.
It was an anticlimactic ending to a Neuman-trial sideshow that turned main event with Sneiderman’s summer 2012 arrest on charges of murder. But just before jury selection started three weeks ago, James dropped murder and assault charges from the indictment, due, he said, to his lack of certainty that they were true, sending most of the network TV trucks scurrying back to their respective coasts.
While the courtroom was noticeably less crowded than it was during Neuman’s trial, it was no less charged with emotion on behalf of the parties involved. A parade of Andrea’s friends and family preceded her on the stand, imploring the judge to take pity for the sake of Andrea’s two children. One friend said that upon hearing of his mother’s conviction, the four-year-old son said, “Is my mom dead too?”
As they have been almost every day for both trials, Rusty Sneiderman’s parents and his brother Steven Sneiderman were watching from the back of the courtroom. Today, Steven confronted his former sister-in-law one last time. “She thinks she is special,” he said, looking up from his notes to glare at her. “But she is not. She is a common criminal…Why? Common sense tells us there is only one rational answer—”
At which point Andrea Sneiderman’s attorney objected, and Judge Adams sustained, suspecting that Steven Sneiderman was treading into the more serious charges that had been dropped from the case. What was the true nature of the relationship between Andrea and Neuman? What, if anything, did she know of Neuman’s plans to kill Rusty? Those questions may never be definitively answered. But at the moment, Andrea joins her former boss (who is currently serving life without parole) as an inmate awaiting appeal.