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Oct 7, 2009 1:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Jury selection underway in Oddone case

Oct 7, 2009 1:21 PM

Jury selection began in Suffolk County Court on Monday in the murder case against Anthony Oddone and is expected to continue through the end of this week and possibly into next.

Attorneys for the two sides began questioning prospective jurors in the Riverhead courtroom on Monday afternoon after more delays caused by procedural details that had to be worked out. As of Wednesday morning, only a few jurors had been seated, and the queries were to continue throughout the day.

If the full jury—12 jurors and two alternates—isn’t seated by Thursday afternoon, Judge C. Randall Hinrichs’s schedule and the coming holiday weekend will mean the selection process will resume on Tuesday.

Mr. Oddone, 26, is charged with murder in the second degree and faces 25 years to life in prison for killing Andrew Reister of Hampton Bays, a corrections officer at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead who was moonlighting as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House in August 2008. He died two days after an altercation at the bar with Mr. Oddone, a caddy at a local golf course.

The case will likely hinge on whether the prosecution chooses to argue that Mr. Oddone intended to kill Mr. Reister when he put him in a chokehold or whether he should be found guilty of depraved indifference, a malicious disregard for the fatal potential of using a chokehold on someone. If found guilty of either charge, Mr. Oddone faces the maximum penalty allowed in New York State.

Mr. Oddone’s defense attorney, Sarita Kedia, has not said what the angle of her defense will be, but evidence in the court record and arguments in pre-trial hearings suggest that it will focus on a claim of self-defense by Mr. Oddone, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs about 180 pounds, against an attack by Mr. Reister, who was 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 250 pounds.

Dozens of people witnessed the incident and once underway the case is expected to take as long as a month to complete. Judge Hinrichs has allowed nearly until the Thanksgiving holidays for the trial, according to his court calendar.

Michael Wright

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