Andrea Sneiderman on the stand during the Hemy Neuman murder trial (Courtesy NBC TODAY)
ATLANTA, Ga. (Friday, May 18, 2012) -- Steven Sneiderman filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday in Fulton County Superior Court against Andrea Sneiderman in connection with the murder of her husband -- Steven's brother -- Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman.
RELATED | Read Steven Sneiderman's lawsuit
The suit, filed 18 months to the day after Rusty Sneiderman was murdered, alleges that Andrea Sneiderman was a co-conspirator in the murder.
Hemy Neuman was convicted earlier this year for shooting Rusty Sneiderman to death on November 18, 2010 outside the daycare center in Dunwoody where Sneiderman had just dropped off one of his and Andrea's children.
The lawsuit alleges that Hemy and Andrea were having an affair, and together planned Rusty's murder, carried it out, and concealed their involvement.
Esther Panitch, the attorney for Hemy Neuman's now-ex-wife Ariela Neuman, and Atlanta Attorney William Ballard, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Steven Sneiderman.
Steven Sneiderman and his side of the family released a statement Friday afternoon:
It has been 18 months now since Rusty was brutally taken from us and we began our quest to obtain Justice for Rusty.
We took the step today of filing a wrongful death action to protect the interests of Rusty's children for which he worked every day of his life to provide, to protect Rusty's legacy by making sure the truth about the circumstances surrounding his death are publicly disclosed and to try to bring closure, once and for all, to all of the issues that continue to haunt us.
Without resolution of these issues, our family has no chance to heal. Without resolution of these issues, there will be no Justice for Rusty. Our family will never stop pursuing Justice for Rusty.
Even one of Andrea Sneiderman's own attorneys acknowledges that Andrea's image is that of a woman people love to hate. So, he said Friday, Andrea welcomes the lawsuit against her, so she can finally clear her name.
"So far, she has been portrayed by litigants in other arenas as this demon woman," John Petrey said. "She's been called a co-conspirator, she's been called a murderer, she's been called a devil woman, and that is not Andrea Sneiderman at all. Andrea Sneiderman is a lovely person, she's a terrific mother, she loved her husband tremendously, she was victimized by Hemy Neuman's actions as much as Rusty was."
Petrey said he and Andrea's lead attorney, former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan, along with Attorney Douglas Chalmers, Jr., look forward to proving Andrea Sneiderman had nothing to do with the murder of Andrea's husband Rusty.
"She never manipulated anyone," Petrey said. "Hemy Neuman is the manipulative, mentally-ill murderer in this case. He took advantage of Andrea to further his, for whatever reason, strange goals of killing Rusty.... Andrea had nothing whatsoever to do with the planning, encouraging, hiring, asking him, nothing. She was uninvolved at all, and would have been horrified had she known that.... She's a lovely person, she's a good person, she's a warm person. And the Andrea Sneiderman who was portrayed and manipulated by the forces in that criminal case is not the real Andrea Sneiderman.... Nobody ever wanted Andrea Sneiderman looking good from that trial, it didn't fit anybody's agenda.... Now she's got people fighting for her, that's going to be the difference."
"These two people conspired to cause the murder and wrongful death of Rusty Sneiderman," said Steven Sneiderman's attorney, William Ballard, Friday.
Ballard said Steven is going after Rusty's assets that Andrea controls, including Rusty's life insurance benefits, to make sure it all goes to Rusty's and Andrea's two children, and not to Andrea.
11Alive's Jon Shirek asked Ballard, "Is there hard evidence that you have that's going to make your case" against Andrea?
Ballard replied, "I wouldn't have filed the case if I didn't think we were going to make the case, as you asked the question... I'm simply not going to talk about the evidence."
The lawsuit names both Andrea Sneiderman and Hemy Neuman as defendants.
It declares, bluntly, "On November 18, 2010, Defendant Sneiderman, through her Co-Conspirator, Defendant Neuman, shot and killed Rusty Sneiderman as he dropped off one of his minor children at preschool in DeKalb County, Georgia."
The lawsuit further alleges that "prior to the shooting... Defendant Sneiderman utilized her illicit relationship with her Co-Conspirator, Defendant Neuman, to manipulate and influence him to attempt to murder Rusty Sneiderman.... Sneiderman knew that her Co-Conspirator, Defendant Neuman, intended to kill Rusty Sneiderman.... Sneiderman actively and knowingly participated in the murder and the planning of the murder of Rusty Sneiderman."
Steven Sneiderman, himself, said after Hemy Neuman was convicted of murdering Rusty Sneiderman that he believes Andrea shares the blame.
"Andrea's covered in Rusty's blood," Steven said then, "and there are not enough rabbis in the world to wash away those stains."
Andrea's attorneys say their evidence proves she is innocent.
"I'm not prepared to go into what actual pieces of evidence we will use," Petrey said. "I will tell you what we will prove, though, is that Andrea Sneiderman was never a co-conspirator."
And while the lawsuit proceeds through the courts, Andrea Sneiderman could also face criminal charges in her husband's murder.
The DeKalb County district attorney is still investigating whether to charge her.
As for the lawsuit against Andrea, Ballard said he may subpoena Hemy Neuman, call him out of prison, to testify against her.
But Petrey said Andrea may, in turn, file her own wrongful death lawsuit against Neuman.
She has, in all, three attorneys -- the lead attorney, J. Tom Morgan, along with John Petrey and Douglas Chalmers Jr.
Morgan and Chalmers sent a statement to 11Alive News Friday afternoon:
We categorically deny each and every one of the allegations in the complaint filed today. We are looking forward to a vigorous and complete defense to ensure that Andrea is fully exonerated of these false accusations. We are also disappointed that Steven Sneiderman would file a complaint, supposedly to benefit Andrea's children, when all he is now doing is forcing Andrea to incur legal fees that will, at the end of the day, simply take money out of the children's pockets.
Steven Sneiderman and his attorney Esther Panitch have been attempting to try Andrea in the media for months. We look forward to vigorously representing her in a court of law where, for the first time, she will have the opportunity to tell her side of the story. We are also carefully considering our legal options regarding the outrageous and libelous statements that have been made to the media about Andrea, without the benefit of privilege, by various individuals.