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Aug 19, 2008 1:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

TWO COUNTS OF MURDER AGAINST ACCUSED IN TAVERN ATTACK

Aug 19, 2008 1:36 PM

The Farmingville man accused of choking to death an off-duty Suffolk County corrections officer at a Southampton Village tavern earlier this month was arraigned on two counts of second-degree murder yesterday, August 20, at Suffolk County Supreme Court in Riverside.

Twenty-five-year-old Anthony P. Oddone, who pleaded not guilty, faces a second count for showing “depraved indifference to human life” in the fatal assault on 40-year-old Andrew Reister of Hampton Bays, who died from his injuries on August 9.

Mr. Oddone, handcuffed and clad in a New York Yankees T-shirt and blue jeans, was silent and composed as he appeared before Justice C. Randall Hinrichs shortly before noon yesterday, accompanied by attorney Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, who is representing him. The judge ordered him to be held without bail.

Mr. Oddone had been arraigned in Southampton Village Justice Court on a felony assault charge on August 7, the day of the attack at the Southampton Publick House and before the victim died. He was held at Rikers Island pending arraignment on the murder charge, which carries a potential sentence of 25 years to life.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota also addressed reporters, explaining that the indictment unsealed at the court appearance included two counts of second-degree murder because his office has two theories on the case. One is that Mr. Oddone killed Mr. Reister intentionally, and the second theory suggests Mr. Oddone recklessly engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death to Mr. Reister.

Mr. Spota said that before the case goes to trial, prosecutors would settle on which strategy they will pursue with a jury.

While he awaits trial, Mr. Oddone with continue to be held at Rikers Island. Normally, a suspect arrested in Suffolk County would be held at the county jail in Riverside, but Mr. Reister was employed as a corrections officer in that facility, so Mr. Oddone was moved to the city facility to avoid any potential conflict.

On the night he was attacked, Mr. Reister was moonlighting as an ID checker at the Publick House, a microbrewery and restaurant in Southampton Village. Police said Mr. Oddone was dancing on a table, and when Mr. Reister asked him to stop, Mr. Oddone attacked him. Mr. Oddone put Mr. Reister in a chokehold until well after he passed out, putting him into a coma, according to police.

Other bar patrons tried to make Mr. Oddone release Mr. Reister, and they performed CPR on the victim after the attack, police said.

At the arraignment Wednesday, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield said there were numerous patrons of the Publick House dancing on several different tables that night who security staff asked to get down. “All patrons complied except this defendant,” Ms. Merrifield said of Mr. Oddone.

She also told the court that when he attacked Mr. Reister, at least one patron actually grabbed the assailant and dragged him by the feet to make him release the victim, but was unsuccessful.

Ms. Merrifield also revealed that the incident of violence in the Publick House was not the first for Mr. Oddone: She cited a May 2005 incident in a Cobleskill, New York, bar named Happy Trails, alleging that Mr. Oddone was involved in another assault involving three victims, hitting more than one of them with a beer bottle. No charges were filed in connection with that incident.

Mr. Reister’s widow, Stacey, his brother, James, and his brother-in-law Christopher Dean, who is also a corrections officer, were among a group of family members who attended the arraignment on the victim’s behalf. Also attending the arraignment yesterday were the head of the county’s homicide unit, and the presidents of unions representing both Suffolk County Police and corrections officers. Some 75 corrections officers attended as well, so many that the courtroom was filled to capacity, and many of the officers were forced to wait outside.

The victim’s brother, James, said the large turnout for the arraignment, like a similar turnout at Mr. Reister’s funeral last week, are evidence of the outpouring of support the family has received in the weeks after the incident, and he said it has helped the family through the ordeal. “It’s great support for a great man,” he said Wednesday.

Mr. Oddone, meanwhile, had supporters in court as well, including his mother and stepfather, and several members of The Bridge, a golf club in Noyac where Mr. Oddone was employed as a caddy.

His friends at The Bridge impacted the case in another way: In successfully arguing for Mr. Oddone to be held without bail, Ms. Merrifield noted that some of his friends at the Publick House on the night of the attack were Canadian citizens, at least one of whom is in the United States with an expired visa, and fellow caddies at The Bridge were from foreign countries, increasing the likelihood that he might be a flight risk. Mr. Spota said some of Mr. Oddone’s co-workers are in the country illegally.

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I can't begin to fathom how members of The Bridge think that they are doing a good thing by taking up a collection for Oddone's defense. Multiple people saw him choke a man to unconsciousness. It's not like there is some question as to his guilt or innocence!
I know a number of bouncers out here, all of whom are decent people, some of whom have families, and I know that (until this happened) the last thing from their minds was that they might not make it back home.
It's just awful.
By SM Bonac (1), East Hampton on Aug 25, 08 11:05 AM