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Mar 19, 2014 5:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

As Expected, Oddone Sentenced To Time Served

Mar 25, 2014 2:39 PM

The widow of a former Suffolk County corrections officer who was killed in a 2008 struggle at the Southampton Publick House addressed her husband’s killer with an impassioned speech just before his sentencing last week in a Riverhead courtroom.

Stacey Reister spoke for roughly 15 minutes last Wednesday afternoon, March 19, making clear the anguish her husband’s death caused her and her two young children, and the animosity she felt for the defendant, Anthony Oddone, despite recommending a plea deal that ensured his freedom.

“The amount of trauma that this defendant caused my family, I can’t even put into words,” she told the court.

Despite her anger, Ms. Reister said she requested the plea deal that spared Mr. Oddone additional jail time in order to also spare her children, now 10 and 14, the burden of a second trial.

She also asked the defendant to take responsibility for his actions and to apologize. But when Judge C. Randall Hinrichs gave Mr. Oddone the opportunity to do just that, he declined.

Ms. Reister responded with an expletive from her seat in the audience.

Mr. Oddone, 32, was originally convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 2009 for placing Andrew Reister, 40, in a headlock and holding his grip even after Mr. Reister fell unconscious. Mr. Reister, who was working a second job as a bouncer on August 7, 2008, the night of the crime, was pronounced brain dead two days later.

The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, overturned that conviction in December on grounds that Judge Hinrichs failed to allow the defense to properly remind a witness of prior statements, and Mr. Oddone was released on $500,000 bail pending a new trial. The prosecution and defense reached an agreement last month, and last Wednesday afternoon, Judge Hinrichs sentenced Mr. Oddone to five years, four months and 16 days in prison—time he had already served for the manslaughter charge, plus five years post-release supervision.

Ms. Reister read a long list of activities and events, from sports and vacations to holidays and bedtime stories, that she and her children wished they could have spent with Mr. Reister.

“I am absolutely furious that the defendant stole my anonymity,” Ms. Reister said, explaining that others constantly comment on the case or her husband’s death while she is out in public.

She also expressed frustration with having to justify her decision to request the plea deal.

Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield, the lead prosecutor in the case, said she was confident she could have convicted Mr. Oddone a second time, but negotiated the plea in order to fulfill the Reister family’s wishes.

Judge Hinrichs said he felt some reservation for the sentence he imposed, given the severity of the crime, but added that he had “profound respect” for Ms. Reister’s decision.

“Knowing what I have come to learn throughout the course of this proceeding, I have no doubt that [Mr. Reister’s] primary concern would be the well-being of his children,” he said. “The need for closure at this time is overwhelming.”

Judge Hinrichs also told Ms. Reister that she no longer needs to justify her decision to push for the plea.

“This is the court’s sentence—there should be no more agonizing about it,” he said. “Just simply cherish the memory of Mr. Reister.”

Late last year, the Court of Appeals threw out Mr. Oddone’s manslaughter conviction, and his 17-year sentence, after ruling that Judge Hinrichs had acted unfairly when he refused to allow the defense to remind a witness of prior statements she made regarding the length of the struggle involving Mr. Oddone and Mr. Reister. The witness originally told insurance investigators that the fight lasted less than 10 seconds but, months later, testified in court that it lasted “a minute or so.”

At last week’s sentencing, Judge Hinrichs also told Mr. Oddone he was disappointed by his decision to keep quiet.

“Your attorneys have performed Herculean efforts on your behalf,” he said. “By what you do from this point forward you can either reward the confidence that all these people placed in you by the way you live your life, or you cannot.

“Time will tell whether that confidence was misplaced,” he added.

Sarita Kedia, Mr. Oddone’s attorney, said during last week’s proceeding that her client was remorseful for his actions, but that she and his other lawyers had advised him not to speak.

“Nothing is necessarily perceived the way it is intended,” Ms. Kedia said, explaining why she gave her client that advice.

Mr. Oddone kept his head bowed during the proceeding, and declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Ms. Kedia also noted that Mr. Oddone is taking college courses and working at a sports rehabilitation facility in New York City. “I have no doubt that he’s going to remain an extraordinarily productive member of society,” she said.

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Stacey is very strong. And Oddone is very lucky.
By wondering (63), Southampton on Mar 19, 14 6:00 PM
My prayers are with the Reiser family...I was where you are now a few yrs ago. It is never easy and it doesn't go away. We learn to move on, carry on with our daily lives, They are never far from our heart. Listen to your heart and soul..grieve,,and grieve some more..Dont let anyone tell you that there is a limit on the time one has to grieve,Take care of yourself and your children, You are going to be A-OK. My heartfelt best wishes to you and your family..
By Woods woman (145), East hampton on Mar 20, 14 11:28 PM
I am hoping Oddone ends up like Shavod Jones.
By rightwing (18), East Quogue on Mar 25, 14 2:00 PM