Robert Neulander is in jail Friday – found guilty a second time of murdering his wife Leslie Neulander. Their family – maintaining Robert is innocent, promising they will appeal.
“This is a travesty of justice,” Robert and Leslie’s son Ari Neulander told CNY Central Thursday, “and we’re going to get him out again, however long that takes. We’re going to appeal the decision.”
Defense Attorney Jonathan Bach – whose wife and law firm partner Alexandra Shapiro lead the first appeal attempt in 2017 – made the same pledge to appeal.
It’s a process that won’t happen overnight – as appeals attorneys will need to comb through the transcript of the trial, which lasted 13 days.
“It will be up to the appeals attorneys what issues are the strongest, and which ones should be put before the appellate court,” Tully Rinckey Defense Attorney Peter Pullano said.
Pullano has over 35 years of experience as a defense attorney – he said that the appellate court is likely going to view this trial individually, but that we could see similar arguments from the first appeal attempt to get this second verdict overturned.
In the appellate brief filed in 2017 – Neulander’s team argued that a “pattern of prosecutorial misconduct” denied him a fair trial. They also argued that the “conviction was not supported by sufficient proof and was otherwise against the weight of the evidence.”
The defense in this second trial in 2022 – making motions that mirror these appellate complaints, looking to dismiss the charges for “insufficient” evidence presented by the prosecution. The defense also motioned for a mistrial, claiming DA Bill Fitzpatrick displayed misconduct in his cross-examination of their witnesses.
The judge found no merit in either attempt – the jury, eventually determined that the evidence was sufficient enough to find Robert Neulander guilty of murdering Leslie.
The appellate court overseeing the 2015 trial – did not take issue with the DA’s conduct nor the trial itself. Focusing on juror misconduct – discovered before Neulander was sentenced, serving three years in prison before he was released with the promise of a new trial.
According to Pullano – its possible that alleged issues surrounding DA Fitzpatrick’s conduct could work this time around.
“An objection to the district attorney’s questioning or conduct in the trial, that’s not just business as usual, that’s a very specific objection,” Pullano said, “even with the prior decision limiting itself to juror misconduct, if issues like that came through again they should be realized again.”
Ari Neulander, immediately following the guilty verdict, called the DA a “bully.”
“The district attorney likes to lie,” Ari said, “he’s a predator in this community. He is the most dangerous person to anybody in this community.”
The DA – declined to comment in direct response to this Thursday, saying the family had been through enough.
“It’s a sad day. This man ruined his own family, made Jenna victim number two in the case and the irony is Jenna in her efforts to absolve him, hurt him so badly in the first trial. That’s why they chose to not even call her in the second trial and that hurt him again and that’s how it should be,” Fitzpatrick said.
Neulander is expected back in court on April 11 for sentencing, likely to spend at least a few years in prison before an appeal attempt makes it to a courtroom.