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May 4, 2011 9:32 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Scared Juror, Medical Evidence Slanted Jury Says Oddone Attorney In Appeal

May 4, 2011 10:24 AM

A juror in the 2009 trial of Anthony Oddone issued a sworn statement to defense attorneys that she had voted to convict the college student and golf caddy of killing Andrew Reister in August 2008 only because she was afraid the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office would punish her son if her holdout resulted in a hung jury.

The statement of former juror Frances Oka, who had been the lone holdout for a not-guilty verdict after nine days of deliberations in the case, was a central part of an argument for a retrial made by an attorney for Mr. Oddone before a four-judge panel in the state Appellate Court on Friday morning. Ms. Oka’s son had been arrested over the weekend before the final day of deliberations and she told the defense attorney following the trial that she had ultimately changed her not guilty vote because she feared he would be prosecuted more aggressively if the Oddone jury did not produce a conviction.

The attorney, Marc Wolinsky, a well known corporate lawyer, also told the judges that several respected medical examiners had issued affidavits after the trial that testimony given in court by Suffolk County Medical Examiner James Wilson went against accepted medical science and would have misled the jury.

“He didn’t know what he was talking about,” Mr. Wolinsky told the judges. “I can’t overstate how prejudicial that was.”

Dr. Wilson had testified that various injuries sustained by Mr. Reister, an off-duty corrections officer and father of two from Hampton Bays working as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House when he was killed during a struggle with Mr. Oddone, proved that he had been choked for two to three minutes. But Mr. Wolinsky said that sworn statements by other medical examiners gathered after Mr. Oddone’s December 2009 conviction claim that the choking injuries, burst blood vessels in the eyes and face, and Mr. Reister’s death could have happened in just 10 to 15 seconds.

The amount of time it took for Mr. Reister to sustain the injuries that ultimately led to his death was key to Mr. Wolinsky’s claim that Mr. Oddone should get a new trial, or at the very least, a reduction in his 22-year sentence. The attorney argued that Mr. Oddone, 26 at the time, was defending himself against the much larger Mr. Reister 
after the bouncer had shoved him off a tabletop when he refused to get down and that maintaining the choke hold that stopped Mr. Reister’s heart was reasonable for a short period of time.

“If someone shoots a person seven times and the first shot was justified but the next six weren’t, you have to prove that it was the six shots that killed,” Mr. Wolinsky told the judges.

If Mr. Reister sustained the fatal injuries after just a matter of seconds, Mr. Oddone’s continuing to choke him should not have mattered when the jury was considering whether he was using excessive force, the attorney argued.

“Put yourself in the position of someone who just got attacked by someone who is 6’4” and 280 pounds. [One witness] testified that he had to hit him in the head to ‘wake him up’—that’s Tony’s mental state: he’s frozen in here,” Mr. Wolinsky said, pointing to his head. “There can be no dispute that Tony is justified to hold him for more than 10 to 15 seconds.”

The prosecution’s case at trial rested largely on the amount of time Mr. Oddone held Mr. Reister in the choke hold, which was between two and three 
minutes according to several witnesses. Mr. Wolinsky argued that the prosecution 
used Dr. Wilson’s flawed testimony to lend weight to the testimony of otherwise unreliable witnesses and discredit testimony by others who said the struggle had lasted a much shorter time.

Assistant District Attorney Anne Oh, who had been co-counsel for the prosecution during Mr. Oddone’s trial, argued to the judges that Mr. Oddone had in fact been the aggressor in the fight and was not acting in self defense. After Mr. Reister passed out and collapsed to the ground, breaking his nose, Mr. Oddone had shifted his body to keep choking him with all his strength, she said, echoing testimony given by witnesses at trial.

“This wasn’t a case of accidental death,” she said on Friday, “He wasn’t frozen, your honor, he was relentless.”

Ms. Oh said that the claim of bias by Ms. Oka was simply a case of juror’s remorse and pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said a new trial was not made necessary by a “compromised” juror.

Mr. Wolinsky also appealed to the judges that the sentence of 22 years for a person who did not have a violent criminal past was unreasonable and was the result of pressure on 
Justice C. Randall Hinrichs by law enforcement agencies and Mr. Reister’s former colleagues at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead, which is next to the courthouse where Mr. Oddone was tried.

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Thank you Mr. Wright for your fine reporting during the trial and appeal of this tragic event.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on May 4, 11 2:45 PM
Well this article certainly seems slanted toward the defense.... I have to wonder where you got your information. Was a reporter from this Press there at the Appeal?

Is this going to just go on and on week after week so the Pro Bono defense attorneys get more publicity and free advertising from the hometown newspaper of the Reister family?

Don't you think the Reister family has suffered enough? Oddone killed their father, husband, son and brother. We know that...you know that. ...more
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on May 4, 11 7:27 PM
Yes if the judge overturns the conviction people are going to want to know why. Do you think not reporting is going to lessen the families pain?
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 6, 11 7:57 PM
Of course it isn't going to lessen the family's pain. I don't need anyone on here telling me this, I have a vested interest in this family being related myself! Thank you!

And do you think the people are going to really find out the true facts reading this or any other paper? I said it before and I will say it again...this article is slanted to the defense.

By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on May 7, 11 6:37 AM
Yes, I was present in the courtroom for the arguments. The defense has refused to share any information with the Press other than the attorney, Mr. Wolinsky, agreeing to speak with me very briefly outside the courtroom.
By Michael Wright (25), Southampton on May 8, 11 9:11 PM
Michael,
Have to wonder why this particular article is locked. Perhaps to acquire new newspaper subscriptions? We all know this subject has drawn a lot of readers with the sensationalism of it all.

Come on...where is your empathy? Is there such joy in hashing and rehashing this when the true victim's family lives on the East End?? Oddone is not the victim, Andrew and his family are the victims.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on May 5, 11 8:42 AM
2 members liked this comment
This whole thing makes me sick. The defense can twist the facts any way they want. Bottom line is this: Dead is Dead. Oddone attacked a man from behind and killed him. Reister was WALKING AWAY, defenseless and this was not a bar fight. Judge Heinrichs said so himself at sentencing. It doesnt change the fact that Oddone DOES have a violent history. Oddone DID kill a man with his bare hands. A man is dead and it's because of the hands of Anthony Oddone. The rest doesn't matter.
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on May 5, 11 10:07 AM
5 members liked this comment
The court is not likely to overturn the conviction becuase of a juror having a change of heart. The appeals process will look at the technical aspect of the case - a juror change of heart after the fact has never been the basis for an overturned conviction. If that were possible no one would ever be found guilty.
What's next "I voted to acquit because I felt guilty that I did not spend enough time reading to my own children"
By johnnytax (29), new york on May 5, 11 1:25 PM
3 members liked this comment
Oh and whats the next thing FRANCES OKA is gonna say, MICKEY MOUSE made my son become a drug addict and dealer too. Who brought the firearms raid to her house in October - Daffy Duck or was it really her husband? If she's got blood on her hands from the money that MR. WOLINSKY is giving her so they can get an appeal I'm sure she can rest assure that all eye's are on her now by making these ridiculous comments. I hope you can sleep at night causing pain to an already open wound thats trying desperately ...more
By hamptonfoody (9), southampton on May 5, 11 5:01 PM
And this is all very true! This occured to her in October, and in the meanwhile she was busy getting juror after juror removed from this case. I wonder if she ever informed the judge of what was happening under her own roof. This woman is a disgrace and the county should bill her for for 3 months worth of wasted time.
By Truth prevails (17), Long Island on May 6, 11 11:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
I heard about her sons December arrest... there was another in October?? A fire-arms raid? Is that true or just for laughs?? and if its true, any idea if they found anything?
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on May 6, 11 6:55 PM
Here goes the broken record:

Fact remains, Mr. Oddone CHOSE not only to assault Mr. Reister, he chose to hold him in a headlock for an extended period. Mr. Oddone chose to be disrespectful to a place of business, and it's patrons by dancing on a table. Mr. Oddone chose to serve his own interests, and not the interests of safety, or his fellow patrons, when asked to refrain from doing so MORE than once. This young man is clearly not only selfish, but violent, and has the "rap sheet" to prove ...more
By Mr. Z (11808), North Sea on May 5, 11 7:29 PM
4 members liked this comment
And while I agree wholeheartedly, this was in no way a headlock. It was a chokehold. A very clear chokehold that he repositioned after they fell and his arms were NEVER around his head but around his NECK. Just clarifying...
By Truth prevails (17), Long Island on May 6, 11 11:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
"A choke hold of the nature he used..."


I led into that term softly.
By Mr. Z (11808), North Sea on May 6, 11 8:01 PM
A chokehold that broke the bones in Andrew's neck. Oddone was behaving like a blood-thirsty animal. Keep him where he is, throw away the key! May he never see the light of day again.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on May 7, 11 2:46 PM
2 members liked this comment
AMEN!!! I think his lawyers had waaaaay too much metamucil!! They are trying to push out whatever they can!!!
By honeylamb (71), East Quogue on May 7, 11 3:55 PM
2 members liked this comment
Andrew would be 43 years old today. A life cut short senselessly by Anthony Oddone.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on May 10, 11 2:16 PM
That lower- than - a - snake should remain in jail forever! For someone like Odone I am only sorry that tax dollars have to be spent feeding and housing him until he does pass on lto his reward.
My feelings are for the family a young mother and two children without their anchor in this crazy world.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on May 10, 11 8:33 PM