Anthony Oddone, the upstate man accused of killing Southampton native Andrew Reister in a 2008 barroom brawl, pleaded not guilty to a single felony count of first-degree manslaughter last Thursday afternoon, February 6, sending the case back to square one nearly six years after the incident.
The state’s highest court overturned Mr. Oddone’s manslaughter conviction late last year, and threw out the original indictment just two months prior, on grounds that Judge C. Randall Hinrichs had erred when, during the 2009 trial, he refused to allow the defense to remind a witness about prior statements she made regarding the duration of the fatal fight.
In a Riverside courtroom last week, Judge Hinrichs ordered that Mr. Oddone’s prior bail conditions be continued, meaning that the 32-year-old would remain free on $500,000 cash bail.
The judge also agreed to allow Mr. Oddone to travel freely within the five boroughs of New York City—he currently lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan—as well as to upstate Orange County, where his mother and grandmother live. He can also visit Suffolk County for court dates.
Judge Hinrichs denied a request that Mr. Oddone be allowed to travel freely within the state, but said he would consider granting permission for work-related trips.
Assistant District Attorney Denise Merrifield called Mr. Oddone a “substantial flight risk” during last week’s court proceedings and said she opposed the additional travel privileges. Outside the courtroom after the proceedings, she said she would not comment on the case while it is pending.
Dressed in a blue button-down shirt and a checkered tie, Mr. Oddone, accompanied only by his attorneys, appeared calm in court, making small talk with one of his attorneys. He declined to comment as he left the court building.
When he was released from prison in December after supporters posted his bail, Mr. Oddone had served more than five years of a 17-year sentence. Should he be convicted again of the manslaughter charge, he will face a maximum sentence of nine years in jail, Ms. Merrifield said.
Sarita Kedia, Mr. Oddone’s attorney, said the arraignment had proceeded as expected.
“He’s got a job and he is in school and he’s getting his life back together,” she said of her client, who is due back in court for a conference on Wednesday, February 19.
Ms. Kedia declined to discuss specific details, such as what Mr. Oddone is studying or where is he is now working.
In 2009, a jury convicted Mr. Oddone of felony manslaughter for killing Mr. Reister, a Suffolk County Corrections Officer who was moonlighting as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House in Southampton Village. The jury acquitted Mr. Oddone of second-degree murder.
Police said a fight erupted between the two men after Mr. Reister asked Mr. Oddone to stop dancing on a table. Mr. Oddone placed Mr. Reister in a headlock, which he held even after the 40-year-old lost consciousness, according to witnesses. Mr. Reister died in a hospital three days later.
After last week’s arraignment, his father, George Reister, who attended the proceedings along with his wife and other family members, said he was “not happy,” and added that he felt money had “gotten in the way of justice.”
“It’s obvious what’s going on,” Mr. Reister said, though he declined to elaborate or comment further.