A Superior Court judge heard a series of motions Tuesday in the case of Hemy Neuman, who is facing charges related to the 2010 death of a Dunwoody man.
Neuman is accused of malice murder and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony stemming from the November 2010 death of Russell Sneiderman, 36, who was shot multiple times outside Dunwoody Prep daycare, where he had just dropped off his son.
Superior Court Judge Gregory A. Adams denied a motion from Neuman’s defense team to ban the prosecution from using the terms “murder,” “malice murder” or “possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.”
“Those are very prejudicial terms,” said defense attorney Doug Peters. “They are inflammatory. Each one of those—if it is repeated—is, in a way, taking away burden that is on the state to prove that that crime happened.
“Witnesses can certainly testify to what they observed,” Peters said. “There’s no need to repeat the catchwords of the offenses charged in the indictment.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary countered, saying that the ban would hamper the prosecution’s ability to present its case.
“These are the names of the charges or counts,” Geary said. “That is a proper term to use. I anticipate everything we do will be prejudicial against the defendant.”
In another motion, the defense asked for the ability to inspect, examine and test physical evidence.
“Our review of the evidence is ongoing,” Peters said. “At the appropriate time my co-counsel and I would like to be able to look at the evidence…well in advance of the trial.”
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said his office has an “open file” policy for all cases.
“Anything we have they can inspect,” James told the judge. “They can look at. We’re not hiding the ball here. Everything that we have, we’ve told them about and they have open access to our files.”
Adams instructed the attorneys agree on a date during which the defense attorneys can review the evidence.
Peters also asked for a disclosure of any psychiatric, psychological, drug abuse, alcohol use and criminal history of any of the state’s witnesses.
“We think that it is fair in this case … that they ask each of those witnesses whether or not in their past they have had any of these problems,” Peters said. “This is a very, very serious trial with obvious unbelievable consequences.”
Geary said the information is privileged and the district attorney’s office has no legal basis to get the information.
If the information is wanted, the Neuman defense “can ask the witness as well as we can,” Geary told the judge, before the request was denied.
Peters also objected to the district attorney’s name being printed on the indictment that will be given to the jury. State law does not require the name of the district attorney to appear on the indictment, Peters said.
“By that being on the indictment in the case, we believe the jury … might think that there’s some special attention that has been directed to this case,” Peters said. “The jury could believe this is some type of personal endorsement by Mr. James.”
James said the purpose of an indictment is to put a defendant on notice of charges against him.
“I have the duty as the DA in this county to prosecute all felonies,” James said. “I don’t see how it harms or disadvantages the defendant because my name is on the indictment.”
Again, Adams denied the motion.
Adams is considering a motion to sequester the jury during the trial which is expected to last about three to four weeks.
More motions will be heard a second pretrial hearing on Aug. 15. The trial is scheduled to begin in October and could last a month, according to the DA’s office.