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Nov 18, 2009 12:30 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Testimony in Oddone case covers chokeholds

Nov 18, 2009 12:30 PM

Earlier in the week, Ms. Merrifield and Mr. Oddone’s attorney, Sarita Kedia, had argued over whether several photos taken of Mr. Reister’s body during Dr. Wilson’s autopsy could be shown to the jury—Ms. Merrifield arguing that they were essential to Dr. Wilson being able to describe Mr. Reister’s injuries, and Ms. Kedia claiming they would unfairly bias the jury. Judge C. Randall Hinrichs allowed all but two of the photos, which showed bruises on Mr. Reister’s legs, chest and face and burst blood vessels around his eyes, to be shown to the jury.

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 two weeks ago she was told she would not be called. Ms. Kedia instead decided to call her to give her account of the night of the fatal fight. Ms. Flynn is a senior at the University of Miami approaching mid-term exams and had been in New York waiting to testify for 12 days. The two sides agreed to allow her to be called out of order—a very unusual occurrence in a trial—so that she could return to college. Her testimony took just over an hour.

Ms. Flynn, who admitted she’d had “a few drinks” after work that night, detailed how Austin Everhardt, 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 by Ms. Merrifield, she broke down in tears when asked to describe Mr. Reister after Mr. Oddone had released his grip and fled. She said she had helped an off-duty Southampton Town Police officer and a local lifeguard administer CPR to Mr. Reister before paramedics arrived.

After returning to the stand, Dr. Wilson’s testimony focused largely 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 might have weighed as much as 280 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.

Defense attorney Ms. Kedia began her cross examination of Dr. Wilson on Thursday afternoon focusing largely on the estimates of Mr. Reister’s weight. She pointed to a chart filled out by hospital workers at Stony Brook that showed Mr. Reister weighed 286 pounds on a bed scale, which weighs a patient while on a hospital bed. But Dr. Wilson noted that workers later recorded an “adjusted weight” of closer to 250 pounds that took into account medical devices that were on the bed with Mr. Reister.

Dr. Blanco was to resume his testimony on Wednesday, November 18.

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