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Nov 18, 2009 7:23 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Medical examiner says Reister could have recovered if chokehold had been released in time

Nov 18, 2009 7:23 AM

A deputy Suffolk County medical examiner told the jury in the Anthony Oddone murder trial that if the defendant had released a chokehold after Andrew Reister collapsed to the ground, the 40-year-old father of two probably would not have died.

Late last week, Dr. James Wilson, a 13-year veteran of the county medical examiner’s office, testified in a Riverhead courtroom that it would have taken between two and four minutes of choking for Mr. Oddone to kill Mr. Reister, an off-duty prison guard who was moonlighting as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House, where the incident occurred in August 2008. He said Mr. Reister could have passed out from the chokehold placed on him by Mr. Oddone after just 15 to 30 seconds, as several eyewitnesses have attested he did, but that he would have regained consciousness on his own, without long-term harm, had Mr. Oddone released his grip at that time.

Dr. Wilson explained that a person choked in a certain way passes out not from lack of oxygen, which would take much longer than 30 seconds, but from a mixed signal sent to the brain when pressure is applied to a certain part of the neck. Sensing the pressure and interpreting it to be a blood pressure problem, the brain simply tells the heart to stop beating. But once the pressure on the neck is released, the brain reverses the effect.

“If pressure is put on the right spot for 15 to 30 seconds, the person could pass out,” Dr. Wilson said during testimony on Thursday afternoon, November 12.

“After the person passed out, if someone released that pressure ... what would happen?” asked Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield.

“After another 10 to 15 seconds, the heart would start again and they would wake up,” Dr. Wilson answered.

But if the pressure on the neck—specifically, on the carotid sinus, a part of the larynx just behind and above a man’s “Adam’s apple”—were held for an extended period, the heart would not restart, possibly until after the brain had been deprived of oxygen long enough to cause permanent damage.

Mr. Oddone, 26, who has been charged with intentionally killing Mr. Reister after the bouncer, whose full-time job was as a Suffolk County Jail corrections officer, ordered him to stop dancing on a table at the Publick House. Ms. Merrifield’s case against Mr. Oddone has focused on the length of time the defendant held his victim in the chokehold after the other man had clearly fallen unconscious. Her argument to the jury has been that, with Mr. Reister obviously unconscious and a crowd of people yelling at him to stop choking the man, including warnings that he was killing him, Mr. Oddone must have made a conscious decision to kill, and should therefore be convicted of murder.

Dr. Wilson’s testimony was interrupted briefly on Monday to allow Ms. Kedia to call one of her defense witnesses. Megan Flynn, a 21-year-old college student who worked at the Publick House the summer of 2008, had originally been subpoenaed to testify for the prosecution, but after being interviewed by Ms. Merrifield she was told she would not be called. Ms. Kedia instead called her and had her recount the night of the fatal fight. She detailed how Austin Everhart, another employee of the Publick House, had tried to pull Mr. Oddone off Mr. Reister, whom she called “my friend Andy,” by pulling his leg. During cross examination, she broke down in tears when asked to describe Mr. Reister’s condition at the time.

Ms. Merrifield said on Monday that she has at least one more witness to call before she rests her prosecution. She has called some 25 witnesses during nearly five weeks of testimony.

The defense case will begin immediately and could take another two weeks before the jury is left to consider whether it will convict Mr. Oddone of murdering Mr. Reister, a Hampton Bays resident, during the August 2008 bar fight.

Earlier in his testimony, Dr. Wilson had noted that he found two fractures in small bones in Mr. Reister’s neck, which he said must have been caused by the hard bone in Mr. Oddone’s forearm.

His testimony also focused on Mr. Reister’s height and weight, which has been a topic of dispute by the two sides in the case. The defense has claimed that Mr. Reister, who was 6 feet 4 inches tall, may have weighed as much as 286 pounds, as was listed on a Stony Brook University Medical Center nutrition report. But Dr. Wilson said that his own calculations put Mr. Reister’s weight closer to 240 pounds.

The defense has argued that Mr. Oddone killed Mr. Reister by accident, while defending himself against the much larger man. Mr. Oddone is 6 feet 1 inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds at the time of his arrest. He has been held at the New York City jail on Rikers Island for the last 15 months.

Mr. Oddone’s attorney, Sarita Kedia, began her cross examination of Dr. Wilson on Thursday afternoon, focusing largely on the estimates of Mr. Reister’s weight. Her cross examination will continue today, Monday, November 16. Dr. Wilson is expected to be the prosecution’s last witness.

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I dont care how angry a person is choking someone is so personal and to be able to apply pressure for that amount of time and not feel a small bit of remorse enough to stop you have to be a very sick person. This man has issues with anger and should never walk the streets again I hope hes gone forever. What would he do if a child mad im made as most kids do hes a menace.
By SESMOMOF2 (21), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 16, 09 1:55 PM
I so agree with you... Especially since this was not his first act of rage.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 16, 09 5:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
Jailing this animal for life is too lenient in my opinion !
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 16, 09 5:45 PM
The testimony does not lie, for this guy to be put away for the remainder of his years is all we can hope for, he is a menace to society. he has a record of similar offences and still has been supported by a few members of the Bridge. I wonder what story lies underneath that little snipit.
By bothered (1), on Nov 16, 09 7:14 PM
When are they going to bring back the death penalty? Hang 'em!!
By jonnyhampton (29), Southampton on Nov 16, 09 7:41 PM
You actually propose to execute someone for a hot-blooded act?

Y'all are like some mindless lynch mob, and all nice and snug behind your anonymous modems.
By Frank Wheeler (1818), Northampton on Nov 16, 09 7:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
Andrew was very dear to many people ~
Many people are suffering a real loss from this. Andrew is gone from his family forever. All because of someone's vicious act of uncontrollable rage. How senseless to kill someone because they are told to get off the furniture. He kills for this?? Oddone's pride was hurt, that was all. Guess he wasn't used to being put in his place.

He couldn't handle being told to get off a table. I wouldn't want to think of how he would treat a questioning ...more
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 16, 09 8:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Did you see this happen?
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 16, 09 8:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
PERHAPS there would have been a different outcome if he wasnt pushed THIS TIME. But it sounds like Oddone was just a ticking time bomb. If it wasnt Reister than it would have been someone else. How can you not see that???? No one has rage like that only ONE moment in his life and never again??? You keep saying youre not excusing what he did but it sure sounds like you are! Over & over again.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 16, 09 9:53 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 17, 09 2:29 PM
No , its not my opinion , just a fact that a person's financial status gives them varying degrees of protection in the legal system.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Nov 18, 09 9:37 AM
Strangely enough I saw an almost identical case on DatelineID. The guy got involuntary manslaughter w/a maximum of 10 yrs (eligible for parole in 5)
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 16, 09 9:58 PM
Only in America can you get away with murder and get thrown in jail for stealing.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Nov 16, 09 10:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
move to Iran or somewhere similar then report back.
By slamminsammy (104), East Moriches on Nov 17, 09 8:34 AM
A drunken rage and he had a rage inceident before. Obviously thgere is something wrong with this guy. Still why no one kicked him in th head or hit him with a chair toi stop it is beyond me. Just wait for the defense atty to poke holes in the prosecutors case. Its there job but I dont know how they can live with themselves with this one.....
By North Sea Citizen (561), North Sea on Nov 17, 09 6:30 AM
Mr. Reister had no right putting his hands on anybody.




By slamminsammy (104), East Moriches on Nov 17, 09 8:45 AM
2 members liked this comment
So your saying if you get pulled over and a cop pushes you, you have the right to then choke him to death?? To push some one back and to choke the life out of them are two different things my friend. He was an authority there and had the right to remove him off of the table if he felt his conduct was distracting, and dangerous to those around him. I dont care if he punched him in the face you cant compare what he did back. It shows a complete disrepect for authority and it shows he has not an ounce ...more
By SESMOMOF2 (21), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 17, 09 10:51 AM
I hope Oddone rots in jail.
By razza5350 (1910), East Hampton on Nov 17, 09 11:56 AM
What if this happened in a school? Lets say an obnoxious punk of a 10th grader , who just came back high from lunch, pushed a teacher or even took a swing at him b/c the teacher took away his cellphone. (it DOES happen.) The teacher then puts the kid in a chokehold until he is DEAD. And all the other kids tried to get him off. Same story all I did was change the characters. Does that change anybody's tune now?? (those of you who think Oddone was right to act in self defense.)
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Nov 17, 09 1:56 PM
You know what all of you people that think this guy Oddone did what he had to are crazy. He took a man's life PERIOD. My cousin and her 2 children now don't have a husband and father so yes this guy should burn in hell for what he did. Let alone all the other family members this has effected. There was no reason for him to do what he did, he needs to get over himself. So for all of you that are for my family and seeing justice served I thank you and for those are not go to hell.

From the ...more
By family member (1), las vegas on Nov 17, 09 2:15 PM
Ins must be Oddone's mother. I have been pushed and never choked someone to death while people hit me over the head and screamed I m killing him but failed to release the grasp. Given this guys prior history and his actions you think he should sue for sexual discrmination! I would love to see YOU locked up in a room with the victims family
By razza5350 (1910), East Hampton on Nov 18, 09 8:39 AM
Mr. Oddone was asked politely to get off the table...his response was disdain and profanity. Perhaps if Andy had asked for assistance in removing Mr. Oddone from the table there would have been a different outcome, no choke hold just Mr. Oddone being forcibly removed from the establishment. Of course we are all arm chair quarterbacks. My concern is this. The doctor testified that Andy would be alive today if Mr. Oddone had simply let go after he'd incapacitated him. The fact that he continued ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Nov 18, 09 10:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
Listen INS people told the court they tried and tried to pry this man off and he refused to let go even after people were saying your going to kill him this is an insane person who should rot and burn in hell. His family does have my sypathy even after you insulted her ( how dare you) they are the one paying the price for this waste of life. Hes a waste of life someone whos dying today should have his life.
By SESMOMOF2 (21), SOUTHAMPTON on Nov 18, 09 11:35 AM
Don't waste your time with INS, Sems. He cares not for either the Reister family, or Oddone. He's more interested in using this case as a platform to vent his anger (disguised as opinion) at the "injustices" he feels.. in his own life, perhaps? (citing his own 'experiences', which cleary are not comparable to this case, introducing a "race card" as an "alternative perspective", etc..) It seems to me that this is mere entertainment of sorts for INS, as well as a venue to spout his issues with society. ...more
By maryb123 (84), east hampton on Nov 18, 09 8:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
The bar of reasonable doubt is pretty low. I can't believe that the jury could convict of a homicide involving premeditation. This still seems like a Manslaughter 2. But juries are surprising. Just like everyone else posting here, I await the verdict with anticipation.
By highhatsize (4146), East Quogue on Nov 21, 09 1:19 AM
"Premeditation" had absolutely nothing to do with the prosecutions case. Intent is their case to prove. Manslaughter 2?? You'll not even concede Manslaughter 1- whereas the "intent" was to at least cause serious physical injury? Unfortunately, and obviously, people need not be educated to comment on the loss of someones life. Perhaps if it were your loved one who was killed, you would not be so quick to dole out a measly "reckless" (manslaughter "2") excuse for their death. Just saying.
By maryb123 (84), east hampton on Nov 24, 09 4:18 PM
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