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Aug 5, 2009 12:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Reister murder: One year later

Aug 5, 2009 12:40 PM

Sunday marks the first anniversary of the death of Andrew Reister, the Hamptons Bays man who was choked to death in an altercation at the Southampton Publick House last year.

Mr. Reister, a 40-year-old corrections officer, was moonlighting at the tavern as an ID checker last summer when he was attacked by an unruly patron, according to police. He was declared brain dead two days later, on August 9.

The accused patron, 26-year-old Anthony Oddone of Farmingville, was arrested just minutes after the incident and has been held in jail at Rikers Island in New York City since then, awaiting trial.

Although there was a crowd of people at the Publick House when the incident occurred, no eyewitnesses have spoken publicly about what they saw. None of Mr. Oddone’s attorneys, including his current counsel, Sarita Kedia, has ever given Mr. Oddone’s version of events.

Ms. Kedia said on Tuesday that she is confident Mr. Oddone would be vindicated at trial. She said evidence in the case gives her that confidence; however, she would not say what evidence that is.

“I think it’s a sad situation, which has unfortunately been made even sadder by the manner in which the prosecution has chosen to handle it,” Ms. Kedia said. She would not comment on what prosecution behavior she finds objectionable.

That Night

It was a Wednesday at The Publick House—Ladies’ Night, a popular night for young people.

As he had been doing every Wednesday for a month or so, Mr. Reister arrived at the Publick House on August 6, 2008, to work his second job, checking IDs at the door. His brother, James Reister, was a bouncer there, but he was out sick that night.

The following account of the incident is what can be gleaned from interviews with police, statements by the district attorney’s office, and other investigation and interviews.

At around 1 a.m. on August 7, some rowdy patrons started to dance on tables. When they were asked to get down, all but one, Mr. Oddone, complied, prosecutors said. A caddy at The Bridge golf club in Noyac, Mr. Oddone was there with some Canadian friends.

When Mr. Reister confronted him and asked him to get down, Mr. Oddone reportedly attacked, putting him into a chokehold.

Other patrons grabbed at Mr. Oddone’s legs, trying to pull him off, but he would not release his hold on Mr. Reister, according to prosecutors, who said Mr. Oddone kept squeezing Mr. Reister’s neck well after he lost consciousness, causing cardiac arrest and severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen.

At some point, Mr. Oddone finally released Mr. Reister and fled the Publick House, hailing a taxicab, police said.

A group of patrons, including off-duty police officers, tried to resuscitate Mr. Reister. His widow, Stacey Reister, used to babysit one of the patrons who stepped in to perform CPR—he’s a trained lifeguard and knew CPR well.

An EMT who soon arrived in response to a 911 call had to elbow his way through the crowd to get to Mr. Reister.

When police arrived, they initially tried to clear the bar of patrons, but when they realized they likely had a murder case on their hands, and not just a simple assault, they instructed the crowd to stay put so officers could interview witnesses. The Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad was called in to take the lead on the investigation.

Meanwhile, Mr. Oddone hadn’t gotten very far.

Word spread over police frequencies that the suspect had fled the Publick House in a taxi. Officer John Rodecker was in the right place at the right time, near the Southampton 7-Eleven, and he pulled over the cab. Mr. Oddone at first denied even being involved in a fight, prosecutors said. But he was arrested and locked up overnight at the Southampton Village Justice Center.

Arraignment

Later that morning, Mr. Oddone was arraigned on felony assault charges at Southampton Village Justice Court. Mr. Reister’s brother, James, was there to witness the arraignment, along with other bouncers from the Publick House. A young employee of The Bridge, wearing his embroidered “Bridge” polo shirt, came as well. There were at least seven police officers in the courtroom, including both Southampton Village and Southampton Town police.

Mr. Oddone was escorted into the courtroom wearing a jail-issued white, disposable jumpsuit and brown paper slippers.

The arraignment began shortly after Mr. Oddone’s legal aid attorney, Adrienne Wallace, arrived, but a five-minute recess was called when she told the judge she had not yet had the opportunity to interview her client. When the arraignment resumed, Mr. Oddone entered a not guilty plea, and Ms. Wallace requested that bail be set between $10,000 and $20,000, saying that the range fit Mr. Oddone’s family’s means. Instead, Village Justice Michael Solomon, citing the seriousness of the incident and the probability that Mr. Reister would die, set bail at $500,000.

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