Anthony Oddone was sentenced on Wednesday to 22 years in prison for the killing of Andrew Reister, an off-duty prison guard working part-time as a bouncer at a Southampton Village bar in August 2008.
“This was not a bar fight ... this was a defenseless man,” Judge C. Randall Hinrichs said of the 40-year-old victim, a Hampton Bays resident. In sentencing the 27-year-old defendant to a term just short of the 25-year maximum, the judge added, “The defendant must be punished, and in the court’s mind he must be punished severely.”
The announcement brought a short burst of applause from the more than 60 Suffolk County Corrections Department officers, former co-workers of the victim, gathered in the courtroom in the Arthur M. Cromarty Criminal Court building in Riverhead. The audience also included family members and supporters of both the victim and defendant and at least one of jurors who had convicted Mr. Oddone of first-degree manslaughter but acquitted him of a more serious second-degree murder charge in December after a two-month trial.
Mr. Oddone’s attorney, Sarita Kedia, told the judge that she would be filing an appeal of the manslaughter conviction. Marc Wolinsky, a member at The Bridge, the Noyac golf club where Mr. Oddone caddied in the summer, said a notice of appeal would be filed tomorrow.
Mr. Oddone declined an opportunity to address the court, but Mr. Reister’s widow, Stacey, addressed the court—and Oddone, directly—for more than 30 minutes prior to sentencing. Her presentation to the court was not tearful but was rife with ire toward the defendant and his attorney. She often spoke directly to Mr. Oddone rather than the judge and asked him to look at her on more than one occasion—he obliged for most of the speech.
“You took all of that away,” she said, throwing a framed family photo on the defense table. “Thank you very much. I had a great life before that.”
Mr. Oddone and Mr. Reister clashed in the Southampton Publick House on August 8, 2008, after Mr. Reister, who was working part-time as a bouncer, asked Mr. Oddone to stop dancing on a table. When Mr. Oddone refused, according to witnesses who testified during the two-month trial, Mr. Reister pushed the younger man off the table. As he turned to walk away, Mr. Oddone leapt onto Mr. Reister’s back and wrapped one arm around his throat.
A Suffolk County deputy medical examiner said that Mr. Reister died because his heart stopped, the result of what he dubbed a carotid choke hold, which puts pressure on the carotid artery and triggers the brain to stop the beating of the heart. When Mr. Oddone let go, after more than two minutes, according to witnesses, Mr. Reister’s heart started again, but he was brain dead. He died two days later at Stony Brook University Hospital after being removed from life support.
“All you needed to do was get down,” Ms. Reister said, facing Mr. Oddone in the courtroom on Wednesday. “This could have all been avoided if you just got down.”
She pleaded with the judge to give the defendant the maximum sentence, 25 years in prison. “Give him the maximum sentence, because my children received the maximum sentence: a life without their daddy.”
Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield also pilloried Mr. Oddone in her pre-sentencing address to the court. She highlighted his past criminal record—an arrest for petit larceny at a Walmart, a criminal mischief arrest for throwing furniture off a bar patio, and probation violations on two occasions—and repeatedly labeled him “arrogant, violent and self-centered.”
“It is sickeningly ironic that the defense begged and pleaded for mercy for this defendant,” since witnesses had pleaded with him to release Mr. Reister, she said. “I ask the court: Don’t show him any mercy. Show him exactly what he showed Mr. Reister—nothing.”
Ms. Kedia addressed the court and attempted to paint Mr. Oddone as a good kid who had turned around his mischievous ways when he moved to Long Island to attend St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. She noted the support Mr. Oddone has received from many wealthy and powerful members of The Bridge, who paid for his defense and were scattered in the audience throughout the course of the trial, and said that Mr. Oddone had a bright future ahead of him, a future that still stood a chance if the sentence imposed by the judge was light.
“There is no question that many people here, including, of course Stacey Reister, have suffered a tremendous loss,” she said. “It’s an injustice, but a second injustice won’t equal justice. A lengthy sentence is simply not justified.”
Mr. Oddone, dressed in pressed khaki pants with blue shirt and necktie, and looking thinner and more muscular than during his late 2009 trial, sat at the defense table while Judge Hinrichs read his sentence.