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Feb 18, 2010 1:37 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Jury now deliberating in Oddone trial

Editor's Note: This article was published on 27east on December 2, 2009.
Feb 18, 2010 1:37 PM

As expected, the two attorneys in the murder trial of Anthony Oddone wrapped up their arguments this week by characterizing the incident in drastically different ways—the prosecution, as a cold-blooded killing; the defense, as a tragic accident.

After receiving instructions from Suffolk County Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs on Wednesday, the jury will now decide the fate of Mr. Oddone, of Farmingville, a golf caddy accused of killing an off-duty correction officer, Andrew Reister of Hampton Bays, in a Southampton bar in August 2008. In addition to returning a verdict on the charge of second-degree murder, jurors will have the option of finding the defendant guilty of one of several lesser charges, or finding him not guilty of any criminal charge.

Before a packed courtroom in Riverhead on Tuesday, attorney Sarita Kedia delivered an impassioned five-hour closing argument in defense of her client, urging the jury to acquit.

In a marathon summation, Ms. Kedia maintained that Mr. Oddone was simply defending himself from an attack by a larger man when he wrapped his arm around Mr. Reister’s neck from behind after the part-time bouncer had shoved him off the table he was dancing on in the Southampton Publick House. She said the “headlock” was a spontaneous reaction, not a malicious attack that was intended to cause Mr. Reister’s death.

“He was just dancing on a table at a bar one second ... and then—boom,” she said, clapping her hands together.

She called the district attorney’s decision to file a murder charge against Mr. Oddone “overzealous” and said that nothing her client, whom she referred to as Tony throughout, had done that night could have been expected to cause Mr. Reister’s death.

“It’s a tragedy when anyone dies. It’s especially tragic when anyone dies too young—it’s devastating,” she said. “But, ladies and gentlemen, a sudden, unexpected death doesn’t equal a crime. This young man, Anthony Oddone, wasn’t engaging in any criminal activity ... He was only defending himself—he was attempting to restrain his attacker.”

But in a dramatic summation on Wednesday morning, Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield urged the jury to convict on the murder charge and not a lesser count, saying the attack that resulted in Mr. Reister’s death was neither accidental nor justified.

“He killed him with his bare hands—that’s brutal,” she told the jury on Wednesday morning. “You know that to kill someone with your bare hands takes minutes. It’s grisly.”

To drive home the point, Ms. Merrifield stood silent and motionless for a full three minutes—a prosecution estimate of the amount of time Mr. Oddone held the victim in a choke hold—quietly counting the time on her wristwatch. The courtroom was rapt, and soon observers were fidgeting and coughing, only occasionally breaking the silence.

She maintained that the incident was the result of “simple, flat-out rage” on Mr. Oddone’s part, and she derided the defense for alleging that the defendant was acting in self-defense—a maneuver designed to give the jury justification for an acquittal.

“He chose to continue choking him,” the prosecutor said. “All he had to do was let go. Let go. He didn’t want to let go.”

She ended her closing argument by urging the jury, “Show this defendant the same mercy as when he choked Andrew Reister, choked him out on the ground, and killed him in front of a room full of people.” She added that the numerous witnesses didn’t deter the attack: “He didn’t care. He wanted to do it, and he did it.”

The trial has stretched on three weeks longer than initially anticipated when the jury was seated on October 12.

Mr. Oddone, 26, is accused by District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office of intentionally killing Mr. Reister, a Southampton native and father of two who was 40 at the time of his death. The defendant faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. Because Mr. Reister was a Suffolk County Jail guard, Mr. Oddone has been held on Rikers Island in New York City for the last 15 months rather than at the county lockup.

On both days, the courtroom was packed with the family and friends of both Mr. Oddone and Mr. Reister, as well as dozens of attorneys who attended to observe. The audience on Tuesday included Robert Rubin, owner of The Bridge golf course near Sag Harbor where Mr. Oddone worked, the club’s head professional, and several of the course’s members who are rumored to be financing Mr. Oddone’s legal defense.

When the jury begins deliberations on the second-degree murder charge, jury members may consider charges of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

On Monday afternoon, Judge Hinrichs granted a motion by Ms. Merrifield to include the charge of manslaughter in the first degree. Second-degree murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, but in order to return a guilty verdict on that charge, the jury would have to conclude that Mr. Oddone intended to kill Mr. Reister during the altercation.

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Thanks for the thorough update, Michael, and for the great coverage of the entire trial. Well done.

Time will tell.

It will be interesting to see whether the commentators here can control their emotions -- just as they expected the defendant to do so during the incident at the Publick House.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 4:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
The brilliance of your comment about the controlling of emotions will doubtless be lost on most of those who will now chime in.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Dec 2, 09 4:35 PM
you're joking, right? about people being carried away by their

when a young father who would still be alive today, is not because
a most likely inebriated fellow, probably embarrassed or humiliated in front of several attractive women because he was asked by a bouncer to get off a table goes beserk, emotions can run high. and yes, even if he was provoked and pushed or shoved, there is still no justification for choking him for three minutes.

i don't know anyone ...more
By concerned east ender (49), Sag Harbor on Dec 2, 09 7:27 PM
2 members liked this comment
praying for everyone involved and for the jury who will be making a decision on the future of a young man's life
By friend4life (17), Ronkonkoma on Dec 2, 09 4:53 PM
Controlling ones self to the degree you do not kill another human being is essential. That is why we have laws which frown upon such actions.

Getting fired up on a message board pales in comparison. The offended reader simply needs not read the comments. (now doesn't that sound easy?)

Frank on the other hand worries me....His panting anticipation for "the chiming in" on each and every thread suggests perhaps that it doesn't disgust him...maybe it even arouses him a tad. Ew Frank.
By maryb123 (84), east hampton on Dec 2, 09 4:58 PM
3 members liked this comment
If posting here pales in comparison, it should be VERY easy to modulate one's emotions, right? Especially after a verdict with which one may not agree?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 6:37 PM
Praying for Andrew Reister's family who lost a father and husband. Praying the jury does the right thing.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 2, 09 5:07 PM
4 members liked this comment
Just a quick update: Received a note from reporter Michael Wright that jurors have sent a note to the judge late Wednesday afternoon, asking him to again read to them the legal definition of second-degree murder.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 09 5:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
how would a reporter know that?
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Dec 2, 09 6:28 PM
This all happens in open court. The jury comes back in from deliberations, and asks the judge any question they want. The court reporter puts it into the record. Reporters in the court will hear it all.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 6:35 PM
I have read every article and every post linked to this story. I have waited until all the testimony has been given, and the jury is deliberating, to post my opinion. I find it a very sad world when one person can draw conclusions based only on newspaper reports, and state their opinions in such a black and white manner, especially if they were not witness to the event. Some of the consistent commentators on this site have lost sight to the fact that a man was killed, and the one who committed ...more
By beachgirl (11), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 09 6:03 PM
3 members liked this comment
Looks more than ever like a Man 2 verdict. The judge had to insert it as an alternative verdict sua sponte when both the prosecution and the defense demurred. That indicates to me that that's the verdict for which he is looking. It was a mistake for the prosecution to have opposed it, since I think that the jury would otherwise plump for negligent homicide. Also, Merrifield asked the jury to be UNMERCIFUL!? How dumb is that ?

What a shame. Dumb, alcohol-fueled childishness ends in ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Dec 2, 09 6:41 PM
I agree with Mary b and beach girl.. I hope the AD's showing of just how long it took proved that the perp is guilty. Any right thinking individual would have let go before he/she felt the victim go limp. And I am suprised that he chose to plead not guilty. If rage is his only excuse and it happened in a bar room, well that prooves to me that he cannot control his rage He should be locked up I hate to think that every time I go linto a bar I will have to look around and wonder who has any ...more
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Dec 2, 09 6:43 PM
2 members liked this comment
Unfortunately, this jury has already made up their mind to make a conviction. Which one, I'm not sure. From day 1 many of the jurors already had him convicted- which is why the first juror was kicked off. The 2nd juror was thought to be "against conviction" which is why she was dismissed. Did you notice any other jurors dismissed before closing arguments? All of you that know he's guilty and want him convicted- rest comfortably. Unfortunately, justice will not be served since the jury is so tainted.
By mflgs (7), long island on Dec 2, 09 7:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes --- that how it goes --- here in Rivercity.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Dec 2, 09 7:16 PM
So it doesn't matter if the jury is tainted? All that matters is that the result you want occurs. Wish the rest of the world was like that....
By mflgs (7), long island on Dec 2, 09 8:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Pure speculation on your part. I'm sure a verdict will be rendered, one that will be determined by the facts presented, not preconceived notions prior to the trial.
By pjcd (24), Smithtown on Dec 2, 09 10:05 PM
wrong- I was with the jurors
By mflgs (7), long island on Dec 3, 09 7:10 AM
1 member liked this comment
There is a lot of hot air on this board...why don't you all sign off and go watch a reality show on TV.
By Disgusted (45), Sag Harbor on Dec 2, 09 7:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
Judge Hinrichs sent the jury home for the night about 5:50 p.m. They are not sequestered. They're back in the jury room to continue deliberations at 9:15 am tomorrow.
By Michael Wright (25), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 7:26 PM
2 members liked this comment
deepest respect and prayers go out to the Reister family and friends. no verdict can ever compensate you for your loss. The jury has a heavy burdern of ruling based on the evidence and cases presented. we all have our opinions and emotional biases. the final act of acceptance and closure is left. i wish us all the best with that part. we all share pain and a fragile life. good luck with accepting the verdict whichever way it falls. sorry if any took offense to my pain. good bye
By username1 (32), bay shore on Dec 2, 09 7:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
New York's Draw Shop Law may provide that Mr. Oddone is not the only person held to account in this case. A collateral issue to the case being reported upon, but nonetheless relevant to concerns over the family's concerns over the loss of a breadwinner. ("Exemplary" damages is another word for punitive")

§ 11-101. Compensation for injury caused by the illegal sale of intoxicating liquor

1. Any person who shall be injured in person, property, means of support, or otherwise ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Dec 2, 09 8:00 PM
"Draw Shop" ???

I thought it was "Dram?"

Plus, does not this regard a Civil suit only?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 9:37 PM
As far as the Draw Shop Law, I thought I remembered reading that Oddone was not drunk when he choked the life out of Andrew Reister.
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Dec 2, 09 8:03 PM
Oh just ignore him. Publius has fallen into a law book can't get up.

By maryb123 (84), east hampton on Dec 2, 09 8:10 PM
Yes, you did read it- but that doesn't mean it was the truth. He was drunk, but that's not how it was reported.
By mflgs (7), long island on Dec 2, 09 8:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
Not to alarm you, maryb123, but that was funny!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Dec 2, 09 10:56 PM
maryb123, you have made me laugh when I want to scream.
I admire your sensibility regarding this tragic loss.... as well as your sharp wit regarding these sad case commentors; right on target!
(I agree 100%....ew!)
Hope he gets what he deserves, and it's alot worse than a 3 minute choke hold.
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Dec 3, 09 12:16 AM
***oops! commentators

***than the 3 minute choke hold that killed Andrew R.

By EQme (112), East Quogue on Dec 3, 09 12:45 AM
It doesn't matter if he was drunk. Intoxication is not a defense- never has been, never will be. You can wait a few months, or forever, for Publius to dig up this FACT, (if he can ever find it) or you can use common sense. Why do you think Oddone's lawyer isn't pushing the "was he drunk?" issue? She knows it's moot. She's never even stated that her client was drunk, and neither did Oddone for that matter. When asked about the matter in the very early stages of the investigation, Suffolk County ...more
By maryb123 (84), east hampton on Dec 2, 09 9:35 PM
The law is important. It is the law you have turned to punish the guilty. It is the law the accused turns to for protection from the mob.

This is not to say Mr. Oddone is guilty, or that those who believe he is guilty are a mob.

The law is the cornerstone of civilized society and serves to guide us when emotions run high.

I shared the Dram Shop Act, and yes there was a typing error it is not Draw Shop, so that those who are concerned for the family will know that ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Dec 2, 09 10:44 PM
That is why the SHPD cop got 'confused' when he entered on the booking report that Oddone appeared intoxicated.

Damned disgrace is what it is. Cops lying at the urging of the prosecutor. Where else did he realize he was confused? It seems to happen AFTER the SCPD and DA get involved. I just have to wonder what the quid pro quo was for that confusion.

This post is not about guilt of innocence opinions. It is about receiving a fair trial.

I have to tell you that I received ...more
By THE EQUALIZER (62), JERICHO on Dec 6, 09 8:31 AM
Another day dawns warm and stormy.

Verdict day?

I hope the emotional climate here is more subdued than the wind storm outside.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 7:21 AM

Re: your 7:10 AM reply from this morning way above, would you please explain how you were "with the jurors?" Are you a juror? Are you a court officer? Did you meet with the jury outside of court? Are you related to a juror?

Hmmm, what are the other possibilities logically? I can't think of any.

Were you in the jury room as it deliberated?

If you were kidding, this might be a good time to say so.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 7:28 AM
related to...but I'm not making any more comments on this site. so sorry---we'll see if I know what I'm talking about.
By mflgs (7), long island on Dec 3, 09 7:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
If what you say is true, it looks like the only thing that stands between you and Judge Hinrichs is a subpoena on the Southampton Press, and perhaps another subpoena on some ISP related to your e-mail.

Both DA and the Defense have time on their hands at the moment and you can bet they are going to assess whether it is in their interests to advance this inquiry now, or after an adverse verdict. The DA would probably go now, hard to undo a verdict from that side of the case; Defense may ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 8:18 AM
You can also probably expect an e-mail from the Southampton Press informing you that you should retain counsel to defend your privacy if you intend to do that.

It would be reasonable for the Press to afford you an opportunity to move to quash such a subpoena at your expense, but not at theirs.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 8:33 AM
If you are related to a juror, your statement would seem to suggest that the juror has discussed the case with you, or at least has made one-sided statements about the case which you overheard.

You might consider seeking legal advice ASAP in my opinion, and you should tell the juror to whom you are related (if I understand you correctly) to report this to the presiding judge.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 8:16 AM
1 member liked this comment
SOUTHAMPTON PRESS STAFF: Can we please get updates throughout the day as u did yesterday after the deliberations started? It is all many of us have asked and the least ur staf could have done during the trial.
By HB 4 Life (72), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 09 8:20 AM
We will certainly do our best to do that. Should the jury come into open court and make a further request, we will post something to report it, either as a separate story or in the comments section. At this point, though, the next update might be a verdict.

Should we learn a verdict has been reached, we will post something to alert our web readers ASAP.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 09 9:59 AM
1 member liked this comment
HB4life: I dont think the Press owes us anything. We dont pay for the online paper. And Im sure they have other things to do, such as report other stories, than to sit here all day as you suggest updating this story minute-by-minute.
Have we all forgotten that this is a WEEKLY paper and it is mere convenience that we are able to log on everyday and view articles from the luxury of our desks/homes. Im just sayin.... to badger & berate the Editor is kinda out of line.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 9:46 AM
2 members liked this comment
Yes they do owe us. Every web page we click is registered and used to determine ad rates they charge. The print copy may be a weekly but the news cycle is now shorter than ever and if they don't realize this somebody else will and the paper will be defunct.
By HB 4 Life (72), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 09 10:01 AM
I appreciate that, Sam, and we're certainly doing the best we can with the limitations we have as a weekly newspaper.

That said, we have the website, and we intend to use it to keep our readers--both in print and online--as informed as we can, as quickly as possible. I don't mind that 27east readers have expectations. Just be aware that we're doing everything we can to make it happen.
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 09 10:02 AM
1 member liked this comment
Praying for everyone involved and for the jury to make the decision they believe is right based on the facts. May god bless everyone thats involved
By friend4life (17), Ronkonkoma on Dec 3, 09 9:54 AM
I do believe friend4life's heart and thoughts are in the right place. They have been in support of their friend, as any one of us would do, yet they know the tragedy the Reister family has been burdened with. I don't think friend has said anything biased one way or the other. When they say "god bless everyone thats involved" I believe they are acknowledging the tragic events to everyone and not just directing this to Tony. Friend understands their friend will suffer once the jury reaches their verdict, ...more
By SHres (18), Sag Harbor on Dec 3, 09 10:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
By BCHBUM11968 (81), SOUTHAMPTON on Dec 3, 09 12:02 PM
1 member liked this comment
The cab driver was asked to bring him to a house in the Hamptons where he spends a lot of time over the summer. Nopt to a bus station, not the airport, not keep driving until we are far far away.....A few miles from the bar to a KNOWN address! Hardly fleeing from the authorities.
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Dec 3, 09 12:42 PM
Im wondering why he just didnt hop a cab after he was pushed from the table...no he jumped Andy from behind, choked him until he was unconscious and fell to the ground, and he continued to choke him...even though he wasn't fighting back. Its not until Andy is almost dead, that he lets go, then he decides to hop a cab. Do you think he was telling the cabby to keep moving because he was in a hurry to get home? Come on. He knew he had done something over the top, he may not have know that he had caused ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Dec 3, 09 3:13 PM
1 member liked this comment
A known address to people who know him. Did the police/Publick house staff know him? Did he leave a business card behind? Leave his phone number with the staff? He wasn't fleeing he just what.. Was leaving quickly? Please, it doesn't matter where he was going he left because he knew what he had done was wrong. Whether he knew Mr. Reister would die from his injuries or not, he knew that he'd stepped over a line.

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 5, 09 6:03 PM
Friends put him in the cab because they feared for his safety, this was not his will, I was there when he went into the cab, he was pale white with the worst look of horror I had ever scene. I knew Tony and worked with him at the Bridge he was a phenomenal person. Tragic
By birdiemachine (1), brewster on Dec 7, 09 5:38 PM
I'm wondering if the verdict does not go the way Oddone and his supporters think it should, will they pay for his appeal? I mean if the Jury makes a decision based on the facts...
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Dec 3, 09 12:26 PM
They wouldn't need to. Once you put a person in jail they are indigent and the taxpayers pay for the cost of the reproduction of the transcripts as well the costs of appellate counsel.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 2:26 PM
Thanks for enlightening me.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Dec 3, 09 3:01 PM
HB 4 Life,

Have you seen the new article on the motion for mistrial?

Talk about up-to-date coverage, you could not ask for more.

Newsday's article was posted at a similar time, but the updates here from a weekly paper have been outstanding IMO, especially with Michael Wright reporting from the trial with Joe Shaw updating with comments.

You might consider toning down your criticism of our local paper IMO.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 3:22 PM
PBR I agree with you - even though I have email notifications when this is updated I still check here from time to time because they are doing such and outstanding job. Thanks Mike Wright and Thanks Jim Shaw - it is greatly appreciated.
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 3:27 PM
1 member liked this comment
Glad you like the coverage Knitwit, but Mr. Shaw's name is Joseph, not James.

By WHBYankee (17), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 3:58 PM
Illegitimate son of Clay Shaw?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Dec 7, 09 12:29 PM

If you are going to quibble about accuracy, knitter actually said "Jim" not "James."

Is this minor typographical error really worthy of a somewhat angry reply?
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 3, 09 4:15 PM
PBR: look who is calling you a knitwit.... BART SIMPSON! Okay, nuff said.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Dec 3, 09 8:46 PM
Dude, sorry to say, but that's Homer Simpson! But still, you're right, nuff said!
By SHres (18), Sag Harbor on Dec 4, 09 9:18 AM
LOL! Don't want to get in the middle of this...but "Simpsons" fans know that's actually the bully, Nelson Muntz...
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Dec 4, 09 3:42 PM
2 members liked this comment
Pic was changed from when first posted.
By SHres (18), Sag Harbor on Dec 7, 09 10:29 AM
My bad, Homer Simpson. Nonetheless its a grown adult displaying themself as a cartoon and calling someone else a nitwit.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Dec 4, 09 9:24 AM
Good call. People with glass houses........
By SHres (18), Sag Harbor on Dec 4, 09 9:28 AM