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Aug 19, 2009 1:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Accounts point to self defense claim in Southampton Village murder trial

Aug 19, 2009 1:18 PM

In a statement given to Southampton Village Police on August 7, 2008, about 12 hours after the fight broke out, Mr. Oddone’s friend, Andrew Cargill, 25, recounted the events leading up to the altercation.

Mr. Cargill told officers that he, Mr. Oddone and a third man, Adam Rothschild, had gathered at Mr. Cargill’s house on Old Fish Cove Road in North Sea a little before 9 p.m. on August 6 and were “drinking beers” before heading to the Publick House at about 11 p.m. Once at the bar, the trio continued drinking beer as well as tequila and whiskey.

When three girls at the bar got up on tables to dance, Mr. Cargill recounts in the statement, Mr. Oddone joined them, to the amusement of his friends, who took pictures of the scene. Mr. Cargill said that he too had gotten up on a table for a short time, but had been told to get down by a bar employee.

As he got down “things started to get crazy,” Mr. Cargill said. According to the witness, a man who he assumed was a bouncer—presumably Mr. Reister—“took a swing” at Mr. Oddone and then grabbed him and tried to pull him off the table. While still up on the table, Mr. Oddone put the man in a “headlock” and then fell on top of him.

The friend acknowledged that he personally tried to get Mr. Oddone, whom he called Tony, to let go of the man, whose neck he had locked tightly in his arms, by pulling on him and urging his friend to free the man. “I tried to pull Tony off the guy, but he would not listen. I was yelling at him to let him go. I got no response from him,” Mr. Cargill said in the statement, which he gave at Southampton Village Police headquarters at about 10:45 a.m. the day after the brawl. “It was like Tony was in self-defense mode.”

Mr. Cargill said that Mr. Oddone then suddenly let go of the man and stood up. The two friends then went outside the bar, and Mr. Cargill said that he told Mr. Oddone, “I have to get you out of here.” According to his statement, Mr. Cargill was the one who stopped a taxi and put Mr. Oddone in it, telling the driver to take him back to the Old Fish Cove Road house.

Mr. Cargill said that he then went back inside the Publick House to find Mr. Rothschild and “see [if] the guy involved in the altercation was [okay].” The two friends then left and were in a second taxi on the way back to the house when they saw Mr. Oddone being questioned by police near the 7-Eleven convenience store on North Sea Road.

Another document details, briefly, the conversation that Mr. Oddone and that officer, Southampton Village Police Officer John Rodecker, were having on the side of North Sea Road.

After pulling the taxi over, Officer Rodecker asked Mr. Oddone where he was coming from, to which he replied, “The Publick House.” Officer Rodecker then asked about Mr. Oddone’s physical appearance, noting his torn shirt, dirty shorts and lack of shoes. Mr. Oddone said he had been dragged out of the bar and thrown into a cab, tearing his shirt and losing his flip-flops along the way. As to the shorts, the officer’s statement summary says he replied “You know how it is in the Publick House, you get dirty.” When asked if the account he had given was accurate, Officer Rodecker’s statement concludes summarily: “The defendant responded it was self-defense.”

After Officer Rodecker placed Mr. Oddone under arrest and took him to police headquarters—at the time, the case was only an assault because Mr. Reister was still alive; Suffolk County homicide squad detectives would not get involved until later in the day when it became clear that Mr. Reister might die from his injuries—the officer recalls that he and Mr. Oddone talked about golf, fishing, Mr. Oddone’s family and girlfriend, and his military background. The officer said that Mr. Oddone told him he had been in the Army and worked as a bomb technician. He showed the officer that he was missing part of two fingers on his right hand, the result of training accident in North Carolina, he said, but that “at least it didn’t screw up his golf game.”

Officer Rodecker’s statement says that Mr. Oddone asked at one point why he was being held. He recalled dancing on the table with the girls and said “they were loving him” and “the next thing he knew, he was getting dragged out of the bar.”

Mr. Oddone’s previous attorney, Mr. Gianelli, asked the court to dismiss the statements taken from Mr. Oddone by Officer Rodecker because the officer had wrongfully detained the defendant. The officer had not been at the Publick House, had not had Mr. Oddone identified specifically as someone involved in the altercation and had no other cause to have pulled over the taxicab. The motion, which was denied by Judge Hinrichs, also details that Mr. Oddone was kept awake and questioned for more than six hours after his arrest, until after 7 a.m. the next day.

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