Hemy Neuman Credit:

Dunwoody police didn’t focus on Hemy Neuman as a suspect in the slaying of Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman until weeks after the shooting, a detective testified August 15.

“I had no idea who Mr. Neuman was,” Sgt. Gary Cortellino said when describing his first interview with Neuman during hearings on whether to suppress his statement to officers and 16 search warrants that were later issued so police could look into everything from Neuman’s email to his bank accounts.

Cartellino said he and another officer made an appointment to interview Neuman simply because he had rented a silver Kia Sedona van shortly before the shooting. The van was similar to one that showed up on security videos taken in or near the parking lot of the Dunwoody Prep daycare facility shortly after Sneiderman was shot Nov. 18, 2010.

DeKalb Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams scheduled a hearing for August 24 to hear what is expected to be the final witness testifying about the search warrants and to hear arguments from the lawyers about the warrants. The judge asked the lawyers to submit briefs on Neuman’s statement within the next several days.

The lead investigator on the case, Detective Anthony Thompson, said that Sneiderman’s widow, Andrea Sneiderman, had told police the day after the shooting that Neuman, her boss, “had made an advance on her, but she dismissed it.”

Investigators initially chased other leads, Thompson said. They didn’t talk to Neuman until Jan. 4, 2011. When they did meet with him, he was living in a Buckhead apartment with an older woman, officers said. Neuman in October had moved out of the Cobb County home because of issues between him and his wife, Thompson said during the seven-hour court hearing.

Cortellino said he, Neuman and another detective talked briefly in the apartment, “but I felt like the elderly lady was trying to eavesdrop,” so they moved the interview to Dunwoody Police Headquarters. Cortellino said initially they just chatted — the officer said he was interested that Neuman had been born in Mexico, had lived in Israel and the United States and attended Georgia Tech.

But after they had talked for an hour, Cortellino informed Neuman he had the right to an attorney and to not to incriminate himself. “He asked me, ‘Do I need a lawyer?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. Do you need one?’” Cortellino said.

What Neuman told police was not discussed during the court hearing. The interview lasted about four hours, according to testimony. It ended with Neuman’s arrest.

During subsequent searches of Neuman’s iPhone, iPad and emails. Authorities determined that there had been continuous communication between Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman before and after the shooting, according to testimony. After searching the Kia, police found a synthetic hair similar to ones used in a fake beard, and determined a local costume shop sold a similar beard, according to witnesses.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.