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Defense attorneys say Ga. suspect was insane during shooting outside preschool
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) ' A well-to-do engineer thought he was doing the right thing when he shot and killed a toddler's father outside a suburban Atlanta preschool, his attorney said Tuesday in closing arguments at his murder trial.
Defense lawyer Bob Rubin said Hemy Neuman didn't have the mental capacity to know the difference between right and wrong when he gunned down Russell Sneiderman after the victim dropped off his 2-year-old son.
"We can't compound that tragedy by convicting Hemy Neuman of the murder," said Rubin. "We can't create two tragedies as a result of this case."
Neuman, 49, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of Sneiderman.
Prosecutors say Neuman meticulously plotted the killing of Sneiderman so he could be with the dead man's wife, Andrea. She worked for Neuman at General Electric. DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James will deliver the closing statements later Tuesday.
During his closing statements, Rubin said Neuman suffered from manic delusions during the shooting that led him to believe he was the father of his victim's two young children.
"He thought he was doing the right thing, as bizarre as that would be to any of us," said Rubin, adding: "It is inhumane to convict someone of a crime when they cannot even appreciate the wrongfulness of the act."
Prosecutors and defense lawyers have both suggested that Andrea Sneiderman was involved in an affair with Neuman, that she knew details of her husband's death suspiciously early and that she tried to protect Neuman after the killing. Rubin accused her on Tuesday of lying to jurors during her testimony.
Andrea Sneiderman has repeatedly denied allegations that she was in an inappropriate relationship with Neuman. She said she was victimized by a "masterful manipulator" who attacked her husband when she turned down his advances.
Russell Sneiderman, a Harvard-educated entrepreneur, was slain shortly after dropping off the couple's 2-year-old son at the preschool in Dunwoody, a suburb north of Atlanta. A bearded man in a hoodie fired four shots, hopped into a silver minivan and got away in the morning rush hour.
Neuman, a Georgia Tech graduate and father of three who was a high-ranking manager, was arrested about six weeks later after prosecutors learned he had rented a similar vehicle before the shooting. The 49-year-old could face life in prison if he's found guilty of murder. He'll become a ward of the state if he's found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Rubin said Neuman's troubled childhood helped mold the mental health issues he suffered as an adult. He was the son of an abusive Holocaust survivor who was wracked with guilt from having survived while his relatives were slaughtered, and his father sent him from their home in Mexico to a boarding school in Israel when he was 13.
He said his client has never recovered from "the fear of being abandoned, the trauma of being on your own halfway around the world, a stranger in a strange land."
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