With all the elements of a made-for-TV movie, the Hemy Neuman murder trial has caught the attention of people across the nation.
But especially around Dunwoody, where Rusty Sneiderman was killed in 2010, people have been keeping close tabs on live video feeds, gobbling up news stories and posting about it on social media sites.
Dunwoody resident Jana Anthoine said she watches live video from the courtroom every day.
“I’ve never been in a courtroom during a trial. It gives you kind of an inside look into what actually goes on,” she said.
While she’s watching, she tweets about the trial and talks with other Twitter users who are watching, too.
“It’s people I don’t know and will never know, it’s just interesting,” she said.
In Nov. 2010, Rusty Sneiderman was shot to death in front of a Dunwoody day care center where he had just dropped off his son. Hemy Neuman, who supervised Sneiderman’s wife Andrea at GE Energy, later was arrested for the slaying.
Neuman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, which means he admits to the murder but claims he did not have the mental capacity to tell the difference between right and wrong at the time.
Both the defense and the prosecution have focused on the relationship between Neuman and Andrea Sneiderman. They claim the two were involved in a romantic relationship, sharing expensive dinners and wine while traveling together on business trips. Andrea Sneiderman denied that there was an affair.
Anthoine said she follows the trial so closely because she feels very connected to it as a Dunwoody resident.
“It happened shortly after we moved here and I remember getting an email from the kids’ school saying it was on lockdown,” she said. “I’ve got friends whose kids went to Dunwoody Prep and were there that morning. Their kids were out on the playground.”
David Weinberg, an attorney who practices in Buckhead, said the Neuman trial inspired him to start using Twitter. He watches the trial live every day and tweets frequently about what is going on.
“I maybe had a dozen, 15 Twitter followers,” at the start of the trial, Weinberg said. “I said follow me if you want an attorney’s take on this trial.”
He now has more than 100 followers and gets about five questions a day from other Twitter users who are keeping up with the trial.
Weinberg said he also feels very tied to the case.
“Normally I wouldn’t follow a trial this closely,” Weinberg said. “But I’m close to it because I’m from Dunwoody and I know friends of the Sneidermans. I know some of the people who will be witnesses in this case. It’s just close to me.”
Elizabeth Klynstra, digital content manager for CBS Atlanta, said a lot of people are tuning in to their website to see the live feed from the DeKalb County Courthouse.
“We’ve definitely seen good numbers on those days where we’re streaming it. It seems like people are pretty interested in it,” Klynstra said.
In the past, the website streamed portions of the high profile national trials of Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox. Anthony was found not-guilty of the murder of her young daughter, while Knox was acquitted of the murder of her roommate in Italy.
“With those two cases we had increased interest because of the strangeness of both situations,” she said.
Klynstra said with the Neuman trial being local, it made sense to stream it online, too.
“We knew we were going to be there for the entire trial and had garnered enough interest because of some of the strange aspects of it. We knew we’d be able to benefit from streaming it online,” she said.
During the trial, psychologists have testified that Neuman is bipolar and suffers from delusions that led him to kill Rusty Sneiderman.
They said he may have imagined parts of his relationship with Andrea, and he believed that the Sneiderman children were his children. That belief led him to kill Rusty Sneiderman because he thought the children were in danger.
“You really can’t put your finger on a story quite like it,” Weinberg said.