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Oct 20, 2009 7:20 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Oddone trial begins; opening statements heard Monday

Oct 20, 2009 7:20 PM

In a Suffolk County courtroom in Riverhead packed full of lawyers, reporters, curious onlookers and friends and family of the defendant and victim, the murder trial of Anthony Oddone, the golf course caddy who strangled off-duty corrections officer Andrew Reister to death during a bar fight, got underway late Monday morning.

Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield and Mr. Oddone’s defense attorney, Sarita Kedia, gave their opening statements and questioned the first two of some 30 witnesses expected to be called in the case.

In her opening statement, Ms. Merrifield said the prosecution will try to prove Mr. Oddone intended to kill Mr. Reister when he got him in a chokehold on the floor of the bar after Mr. Reister, who was moonlighting at the Southampton Publick House, checking IDs at the door, ordered him to stop dancing on a table in the early morning hours of August 7, 2008. She told the jury that Mr. Oddone did not release his grip around Mr. Reister’s neck for several minutes, even after Mr. Reister lost consciousness and as other patrons in the bar yelled at him to stop and even, she claimed in her opening argument, told him he was killing Mr. Reister.

“The people are not standing here telling you that this defendant planned to kill Mr. Reister that night, but that at the moment he began choking Mr. Reister” his intent was to take his life, Ms. Merrifield said during her half-hour opening.

Mr. Reister, a Southampton native who lived in Hampton Bays, was 40 at the time of his death.

Ms. Kedia, for her part, pleaded with the jury to see that it would “make no sense” for Mr. Oddone, 25 at the time of the incident, to have wanted to kill Mr. Reister and said the prosecution would try to cloud the truth with technical details about biology and technique. She told the jurors that what they should see at the end of the case was that Mr. Oddone was just a young man who went out for a night of fun with 
friends who wound up embroiled in a tragic bout of circumstance after a man he did not know shoved him off a table.

“Imagine, when you’re listening to the evidence, imagine being attacked by someone, someone that outweighs you by 100 pounds,” Ms. Kedia said to the jury. “He’s holding on to this guy for dear life, he’s just holding on. Hurting somebody else is the furthest thing from his mind. He’s just a kid out at a bar until an encounter with an overly aggressive bouncer.”

The first witness called in the case was veteran Southampton Village Police Sergeant Arthur Schucht, who was on duty the night of August 6, 2008, when the call came in reporting the fight as well as a call from another bar employee reporting that Mr. Oddone had fled the bar in a taxi. Sgt. Schucht answered questions from the two attorneys for a little more than two hours, offering some graphic details about the scene he found in the Publick House barroom when he arrived.

After Sgt. Schucht, Village Police Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison took the stand, answering only a handful of questions before Judge C. Randall Hinrichs adjourned the trial for the day.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local (106), north sea on Oct 19, 09 10:07 PM
Praying for everyone involved and wishing the jury the strength and courage that they will need to make it through the trial and come to a fair and unbiased decision.
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 19, 09 10:54 PM
1 member liked this comment
Praying for everyone involved and wishing for justice to be done!!! God bless Stacey, David, Mary Grace, George, Halina, John & Jim... Let them have the strength to get through this.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 20, 09 1:01 AM
2 members liked this comment
It will be an interesting outcome and good to get this one behind us. To me the people that didnt help get Oddone off of Reister are as guilty as Oddone. This was totally avoidable had someone stepped in and this article then would be about a bar fight, not a death. The whole thing is disgusting.
By North Sea Citizen (568), North Sea on Oct 20, 09 7:19 AM
2 members liked this comment
Shame on you, north sea... I live in North sea, was there that night, and could not get through to mob of people already coming to Andrews' aide, including the chokesters own friends...And there is nothing interesting about murder, or death..
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Oct 21, 09 11:01 PM
there are two sides to every story. anthony oddone was drunk, the evils of alcohol. he made a horrible horrible mistake. but corrections officers are not the nicest people, what did reister do to instigate the drunken kid? this is a young kid, will putting him in prison for the rest of his life help him or society? our taxes pay for how many prisons? how about reform to help people who have made terrible mistakes . yes he needs to pay, but will making him worse instead of better help ...more
By big (14), sag harbor on Oct 20, 09 8:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
How about you go help him and reform him. He's currently held in Nassau County.
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 20, 09 8:46 AM
1 member liked this comment
any suggestions?
By big (14), sag harbor on Oct 21, 09 3:47 AM
In reply to "big".... You say Oddone is a young kid... at what age do you feel a person should be able to justify their actions? Seems to me a person over the age of 21 is an adult. If he is old enough to drink, he should be mature enough to conduct himself as a responsible adult. And you say corrections officers are not the nicest people... well aren't you being a bit biased when you say that?? Its the same as if you were to say blacks are not the nicest people.
You don't want your taxes ...more
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 20, 09 8:27 AM
2 members liked this comment
there is no justification. if you work in the police, criminal, jail system, you would know what i mean by corrections officers....love their power, it is a generalization of course, but the job does not require much skill or requesits.
By big (14), sag harbor on Oct 21, 09 3:52 AM
Big, apparently you have not read any of the coverage on this case. Andrew Reister was the ultimate definition of a nice guy...and you didn't have to know him personally to figure that out! Even the inmates honored him in a way no other correction officer has been memorialized.

By wondering (63), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 9:06 AM
Big, I have to agree with the people who posted after you. CO Reister was soemone who upon learning what happened had prisoners donating their monies to the family as well as paint a mural in his honor. That doesn't happen for every CO. This was an extraordinary man.
By cleo (4), WEsthampton on Oct 20, 09 9:18 AM
Get some of the COs from Riker's on the stand to testify about Anthony's character! They will tell you THEY thought he was innocent from the momnet he walked in there. And Anthony is NOT being held in Nassau anymore...wonder why?
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 20, 09 9:18 AM
FOTO, If you know so much about Anthony Oddone's character, why don't you go to the trial and listen to some of the witness's testimonies?
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 20, 09 6:46 PM
The first witness I heard speak well of Tony was actually one of the prosecution's witnesses! I will be sure to keep listening to the witnesses though and so will the jury and we will all watch Sarita poke hples in all of their stories!
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 20, 09 7:10 PM
To "big" - This "young kid" has a history of bar fights & didn't learn from them. Why? Because the system already gave him his chances to "reform." Perhaps if he was required to pay for his past "mistakes" Andrew would be alive today. And if law enforcement has an attitude, it's because of individuals like this who have no regard for others. Time for justice.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 9:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Everyone wants to go on and on about how Mr. Reister was the definition of a "nice guy" and I'm sure he was. But those who know Anthony, know that he also is the definition of a "nice guy" He would do anything for his friends and loved ones. He made a mistake and he's paying for that now while he sits in Rikers Island alone. And as for inmates donating money and painting murals...i think that's all a media scam to try and make Mr. Reister better. Again, I'm not saying that Mr. Reister wasn't a great ...more
By Tiny1 (3), long island on Oct 20, 09 9:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
Its all great this Anthony is a nice guy, bottom line is he drank and he strangled somebody. His nice charecter isn't going to change that or justify what he did. He stangled a guy on the the porch of the Publick House then got in a cab and left. Not my definition of a model citizen.

All of you Oddone supporters don't even bother to dispute that he killed anyone, you all are hanging your hat on the fact he is a nice guy. Since when does being nice make it ok to murder?

If you think ...more
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Oct 20, 09 11:14 AM
1 member liked this comment
Big and Tiny you have no idea what you are talking about. Andrew was the classic "Gentle Giant" The inmates at the prison where he worked took up a collection for his family when he died. That in itself speaks to Andy's character and demeanor. I went to high school with Andy, even then he was simply a nice guy. However, this poor misunderstood "Kid" has had previous run ins with the law, he was involved in an assault at another bar in upstate NY. Did someone provoke this "kid" then as well? Why ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 20, 09 10:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
The fact of the matter remains - Mr. Oddone killed Mr. Reister. And, truly, there is no way to justify taking another person's life.
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 10:16 AM
4 members liked this comment
to preserve your freedom of speech!
By wondering (63), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 8:28 PM
this is the best reply of all. who knows why this horrible things happen. i do not know a thing about oddone or reister, only the prison system and those who work them. it is up to the jury
By big (14), sag harbor on Oct 21, 09 3:57 AM
Big, These comments are about Oddone and Reister (God, I hate putting those two names together).... and you say you do not know a thing about either one...so I am wondering why you feel the need to shoot your mouth off in defense of Oddone. If you don't know what you are talking about, get off this board and stop taking up space.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 24, 09 11:19 PM
You have the right to protect yourself using the same means as those that are being used against you. In this case Riester's hands were his weapon and that is what Tony used to defend himself so NO that is not murder. It is protecting yourself against someone with specialized trianing that outweighs you by 100 pounds which is the confirmed weight difference between the men. Mr. Resiter may have been doing his job but he was not following the standard in which these situations are typically handled ...more
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 20, 09 11:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
FOTO, Where do you get your facts? Can you defend them? Are you at the trail? Were you a witness? If you were, why aren't you in court?
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 20, 09 6:51 PM
At Foto from lake grove....Why didn't he let go after it was clear that Andy was incapacitated? Why didn't he let go when people were trying to pull him off? He was not alone, he was there with friends right? Im sure they would have come to his aide if the need arose. You see that's where I loose all sympathy for your "Nice Guy" "Kid" The fact that he would not let go moves his actions from self-defense to murder. There is no excuse for what he did. He went to far now he should pay the price. ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 20, 09 3:16 PM
Tiny talk up someone who works for the state over a college student? A college student with a documented criminal history? Give me a break. Perhaps the Press is biased but at the end of the day, they are not making anything up about Andy, no one is viewing him through rose colored glasses. He was a good man who crossed paths with a drunk who killed him. But we will see what comes out in the trail. We are not a court of law here on this site, just people who knew the kind of man Andy was and ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 20, 09 3:24 PM
I am writing on here as a friend of Tony's. It is no question in my mind that Andrew Reister is a great person and my deepest sympathy's go out to his family. It seems a little strange how the DA says that Mr. Reister accidently slipped and fell into tony which knocked him off the table but yet the defense attorney said he pushed Tony. Seems a little strange that out of nowhere he accidently tripped. I am not a bouncer but if a patron dancing on a table was that severe of a thing to be happening ...more
By friend of tony (9), ronkonkoma on Oct 20, 09 4:31 PM
2 members liked this comment
friend of Tony...watch out, I hear he gives lethal hugs!
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Oct 21, 09 10:58 PM
Love or anger?

By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 20, 09 7:09 PM
Looks like a1st Degree Manslaughter conviction. The prosecution will have a hard time proving premeditation or depraved indifference.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Oct 21, 09 12:08 AM
To Mr. friend of Tony- How can you possibly try to justify the use of deadly physical force?? He was scared for his life by a man who outweighed him? I don't think so. He didn't have any other alternatives?? I really hope they bring up your good ole buddy's criminal past. It's really unfortunate that he will probably only get about 10 years on a manslaughter conviction.
By The End (13), Riverhead on Oct 21, 09 1:53 AM
Would you try to use other alternatives if someone was pointing a gun at you and you had a gun that you could use to protect yourself? If you are attacked you repsond without formulating a plan or thinking of consequesnces. Your natural instincts take over and you do what needs to be done to protect your own life. If there was such chaos aorund the victim and Tony, do you think he realized the instant Mr. Reister went limp or do you think perhaps, with all of the chaos, he did not realize and just ...more
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 21, 09 11:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
What an over exaggeration!
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Oct 21, 09 8:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
The real over exageration here is the charge of Murder.
By FOTO (36), Lake Grove on Oct 22, 09 9:53 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 21, 09 11:16 AM
pstevens, that large excerpt from Newsday is Newsday's protected intellectual property. That is why it was removed.
Brendan O'Reilly
27east Web Editor
By BOReilly (135), Hampton Bays on Oct 21, 09 11:23 AM
Tiny1: dont jump to any "harsh conclusions???" the "harsh conclusion" as you put it is DEATH. And friend of Tony: your definition of an "accident" and most others definition is clearly biased!!
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Oct 22, 09 7:55 AM