Defense attorneys in the Hemy Neuman murder trial rested their case Thursday after calling two forensic psychiatrists to the stand to testify that Neuman was legally insane the day he killed Russell "Rusty" Sneiderman.
Before the defense closed, Judge Gregory Adams gave Neuman what might be his last chance to take the stand and defend himself in the case that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
"I will not be testifying," a soft-spoken Neuman told the judge.
"He did not see this as murder. He saw it as a mission."
The prosecution, led by prosecutor Don Geary and DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James, contend that Neuman is faking mental illness.
Neuman is charged in the death of Sneiderman, who was gunned down in Nov. 2012 after dropping his child off at a Dunwoody daycare center. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Much of Thursday was taken up with defense attorney Bob Rubin and Geary questioning defense witness Dr. Tracey Marks. She is one of the two experts who diagnosed Neuman as mentally ill, suffering from bipolar disorder with psychosis. Marks said that means Neuman couldn't tell the difference between right and wrong.
Geary pressed Marks on whether she could have been duped into thinking Neuman was delusional.
"He did not see this as murder," Marks told the jury. "He saw it as a mission."
Neuman has told defense psychiatrists that he saw a demon and an angel who urged him to kill Sneiderman to protect the Sneiderman's two young children. The defense argues that Neuman believed the angel told him that the Sneiderman children were in fact his own biological children.
But Geary argued that Neuman must have known it was wrong to kill because he lied to the police, wore a disguise to the crime scene, and threw the gun into a lake after the shooting.
Both the defense and prosecution contend that Neuman, a former manager at GE Energy, was having a workplace affair with Andrea Sneiderman. Neuman was her boss. She denies having an affair with him.
But Neuman was driven to kill by a "rescue fantasy." Marks told the jury. She said that meant he thought he had to protect the Sneiderman children at all costs from growing up in an abusive household like he did.
"There is no evidence that Rusty was harming the kids, but that's what makes this a delusion," Marks said.
Geary asked if it was possible that Neuman was lying about the delusion. Marks answered, "It's always possible."
The prosecution also called into question the amount of work the doctor did to form her opinion - reviewing about 100 documents from 8,000 pages of evidence and spending 7 hours in interviews and tests with Neuman.
"If there was in fact, no depression, that he made it up, would that change your opinion?" Geary asked.
"Maybe, maybe not," she replied.
Finally, asked, "Is it possible that someone has fooled you by lying?"
"Yes, it's possible," she said.
Defense's Rubin countered by asking Marks if the prosecution had brought up any solid evidence that would make her change her diagnosis right. But she stuck to her assessment.
"This is my opinion,” she testified. “It's up to the jury to decide."
After the defense rested its case, the prosecution began its rebuttal by calling forensic psychologist Dr. Pamela Crawford, who is expected to testify that Neuman is faking mental illness.
It's not clear how long prosecution’s rebuttal will last, or who will be called.
Court resumes at 9 a.m. Friday.
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