A verdict has been reached in the infamous Dunwoody day-care shooting case that dominated Atlanta headlines for over a year.
The eight-woman, three-man jury found former GE engineer Hemy Neuman guilty but mentally ill in the shooting death of Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody pre-school in Nov. 2010.
Sneiderman, a married father of two had just dropped off his 2-year-old son at school and was walking back to his car when a gunman approached him from behind and fired four shots into him at close range. Sneiderman collapsed and died in the parking lot of the school his toddler attended.
One of the pre-school's 48 surveillance cameras captured the getaway vehicle -- a silver Dodge minivan -- as it exited the parking lot traveling west on Mount Vernon Road. The van was later determined to be a rental -- a fact that would figure prominently later on in Neuman's trial.
Police said Sneiderman likely didn't see his killer, but if he did, he would have recognized Neuman.
Less than a year earlier, Neuman's wife, Ariela, had begged her husband to give Sneiderman's wife a job. "There is a couple, they have two babies and the husband's not working," recalled Neuman's Israeli-born wife of 22 years.
"I told him, ‘Please, help this couple,'" she told the Atlanta Journal exclusively.
Neuman eventually hired Sneiderman's wife, Andrea Sneiderman. The two co-workers later began an office romance that would end in Sneiderman's assassination.
Neuman's wife, Ariela, suspected her husband was seeing another woman. It wasn't long before she figured out who the woman was -- Andrea Sneiderman. All the signs of a cheating husband were there: the late night phone calls, often made outside. "Suddenly he couldn't hear his cell phone in the house," Ariela told the AJC.
Neuman traveled often, and the couple who have three college age children, began having financial difficulties.
Ariela was supposed to join her husband on a business trip to the United Kingdom in July 2010. But he told Ariela she'd have to remain at home -- "he was too busy," she said.
"He came back a different man. I knew then it had been a honeymoon," Ariela recalled. "I think she blinded him. She led him to a very black corner. But he didn't say no."
Finally, in August 2010, Hemy Neuman moved out of the couple's Cobb County home. He told his three grown kids that he needed his space, according to Ariela. 3 months later, Andrea's husband was shot to death in the pre-school parking lot.
The evidence against Neuman was strong: the rental minivan, the sketch of the gunman, emails and letters sent between Andrea and Neuman that indicated romantic involvement.
Andrea Sneiderman, who testified in her former lover's murder trial, denied a romantic relationship with Neuman. But during the trial the prosecution called numerous witnesses to the stand to testify that Andrea and Neuman were lovers.
Prosecutors believe Andrea had a hand in her husband's death. But she was never charged. At one point, the judge banned Andrea Sneiderman from the trial and the courthouse for threatening one of the prosecution witnesses.
Neuman admitting shooting Sneiderman, so his only chance at avoiding life in prison was to convince the jury that he was legally insane at the time he pulled the trigger. But the jury didn't buy his defense team's argument that Neuman was temporarily insane.
Neither did his wife.
"He's not crazy, he's a faker," Ariela said. "He did something so bad, he has to pay for it."
Today, the jury returned the verdict of guilty but mentally ill against Neuman. District attorney Robert James has asked for the maximum penalty -- life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentencing phase of the trial is currently underway.
Photos: Bob Andres/AJC and Vino Wong/AJC