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Dec 9, 2009 2:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Oddone jury a week into deliberations

Dec 9, 2009 2:49 PM

The jury in the Anthony Oddone murder trial continued to deliberate with no sign of an impending verdict early Wednesday, the sixth day of its deliberations.

The jury members have worked until after 6 p.m. on most nights since beginning their deliberations last Wednesday afternoon, December 2. They were not dismissed until 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, after hours of listening to a court reporter read from the transcript of testimony from witnesses describing the fatal struggle between Mr. Oddone, 27, of Farmingville and Southampton native and Hampton Bays resident Andrew Reister, who was 40 at the time of his death in August 2008. The jury was to resume listening to the transcript readings late Wednesday morning before returning to deliberations.

The testimony from the four witnesses—three prosecution witnesses and one defense witness—were among a long list of items of evidence and details from the trial the jury requested on Tuesday morning. They also asked for a number of photos and charts used by both the prosecution and defense to describe the scene in the bar at about 1 a.m. on August 7, 2008, when Mr. Reister, a Suffolk County corrections officer and part-time bouncer, was fatally injured by a choke hold after he told Mr. Oddone to stop dancing on a table. The jury members also asked for the times two 911 calls were placed by eyewitnesses to the fight—one of which alerted police that Mr. Oddone had fled the scene in a taxicab, leading to his arrest less than one minute later and a mile away just north of the village.

Mr. Oddone was charged with murder in the second degree and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. But if the jury finds that Mr. Oddone’s actions in placing Mr. Reister in a choke hold did not constitute murder—the defense has said it was self-defense after Mr. Reister, according to eyewitnesses, shoved Mr. Oddone off the table he was dancing atop—they have been instructed to consider three lesser charges: first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, each of which carries different grounds for conviction and respectively lesser prison sentences.

The trial concluded last week after eight weeks of testimony by more than 30 witnesses.

“After telling you over and over and over again not to discuss the case amongst yourselves, that is all about to change,” Judge C. Randall Hinrichs told the jury, with no small amount of drama, just before sending them to begin their deliberations last Wednesday.

The jury of seven men and five women has not been sequestered during its deliberations, although its members have been instructed not to discuss the case, even with family members, and to avoid news reports on the trial. Two alternate jurors, a man and woman, have also been in the courthouse each day but are not participating in the deliberations. Two jurors have been dismissed since the trial began and were replaced with alternates.

Statements by one of the former juror’s relatives posted to the 27east.com website, which is operated by the Press News Group, claiming that jurors had resigned themselves to Mr. Oddone’s guilt before deliberations began, spurred defense attorney Sarita Kedia to request a mistrial on Thursday morning, December 3. Ms. Kedia also asked that the Press News Group’s internet records be subpoenaed in an effort to identify the relative. Judge Hinrichs denied both requests.

Mr. Oddone, a senior at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue who worked as a caddy at the posh Bridge golf club in Noyac in the summer before his arrest, has been in the Riverhead courtroom each day, dressed in a shirt and tie. After the jury broke for the day on Monday, he looked at his mother in the audience and mouthed the words “Hi, Mom” as he was being handcuffed.

He’s been held at Rikers Island jail in New York City for the last 15 months because Mr. Reister, a father of two who was 40 when he died, was a Suffolk County corrections officer.

After returning to their deliberations Monday following a weekend break, the jury asked to have the four charges facing Mr. Oddone read back to them for a fourth time. The jury asked that Judge C. Randall Hinrichs focus in particular on the passages in the law concerning intent and how the intentions of a defendant can be interpreted.

Their requests concerning Mr. Oddone’s intentions during the fight and the accounts of the struggle would seem to indicate that the jury was still considering at least the top two charges facing Mr. Oddone, murder in the second degree and manslaughter in the first degree, both of which require the jury to conclude that there was the intention on the part of the defendant to kill or seriously injure the victim.

When the jury delivered a note to Judge Hinrichs on Monday morning asking, once again, to hear the criminal charges against Mr. Oddone that relate to “intent,” Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield asked Judge Hinrichs to only read for the jurors the first two charges—second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter—out of the four charges the jury has to choose from should jurors decide to find Mr. Oddone guilty.

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Interesting how -- after having seen and heard all the evidence and testimony -- the jury is still undecided after an entire week of deliberations, yet so many here have long ago made up their minds.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Dec 9, 09 12:23 PM
3 members liked this comment
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Dec 9, 09 3:03 PM
I submit that the weakness of the case and the conflicting statements from too many wittnesses over too long a time has done little more than create doubt in the minds of the jury. very poorly concieved plan by the ADA and weakly excecuted. so weak in fact that the jury now needs to "replay" the mess in order to even find a case. There is none. Our judge is over his head and the mishandling of the system all along has created a bad smell generraly. what the jury is finding is that there is no case ...more
By username1 (32), bay shore on Dec 9, 09 3:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
If I had strangled someone to death, let alone someone as well liked as Andrew was, in a room filled with over 100 people.. I am sure there would be a lot more prosecution than defense...

I was there that fateful night, I gave my information to police, but unfortunately, I was of no help, as all I saw was a before.. And after...

Guilty by association.. I've seen those guys around town before, and they're always acting like Bridge.. AND Tunnel Trash! Again, glad to see those trouser-trash ...more
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Dec 10, 09 1:57 PM
Editor -

The statement regarding Oddone being confined at Riker's Island confuses me. Around the beginning of the trial Oddone had been transferred to the Nassau County jail to shorten the transport time each day - there was a problem when his lawyer said she had not been informed of that move until after the fact. Please clarify when Oddone was returned to Riker's - if that is indeed the case, or if he remains in Nassau when not in court.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Dec 9, 09 4:17 PM
By open mind (18), southampton on Dec 9, 09 4:49 PM
He was transferred at the begining of the trial to "make the commute easier". Y dont u ask the CO's at Nassau why he isnt there and y that didnt work out.
By friend4life (17), Ronkonkoma on Dec 9, 09 10:54 PM