New York State’s highest court on Thursday unanimously decided to throw out the manslaughter conviction of Anthony Oddone for the 2008 death of Hampton Bays man Andrew Reister and ordered a new trail.
Oddone, 31, was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in 2009 and in 2010 a sentence of 22 years in state prison was handed down, though the sentence was later reduced by five years. Reister, who was a corrections officer at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverside, was moonlighting as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House in Southampton Village in August 2008. Oddone was a patron. According to testimony, Reister told Oddone to get down off a table, and Oddone refused. An altercation ensued and Oddone held Reister in a chokehold—for how long is in dispute. Reister fell into a coma and died two days later.
Oddone’s attorney argued that the trial court erred in a number of decisions on admitting and excluding evidence. Judge Robert Smith wrote in the appeals court’s decision that the justices agree with Oddone’s attorney that the trial court made a mistake when it refused to allow the defense to refresh a witness’ recollection regarding a previous statement about the length of the chokehold. Defense witness Megan Flynn testified the chokehold “could have been a minute or so,” though she had previously stated to an insurance company investigator the duration was “maybe 6 to 10 seconds.”
According to the appeals court’s account of events, when Oddone refused to get down from the table, Reister pushed him off. Oddone then got behind Reister, put both arms around his neck and clasped his hands. Reister fell to the floor and Oddone fell on top of him, not releasing his grip, though onlookers said Reister appeared to be unconscious. “Several people screamed at defendant to let Reister go, and some tried without success to pull defendant away,” the court wrote. “Finally, defendant let go and ran out of the bar, leaving Reister unconscious on the floor.”
Oddone was acquitted of murder at the 2009 trial but found guilty of manslaughter.