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Oct 28, 2009 11:48 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

More witnesses recall fatal assault at murder trial

Oct 28, 2009 11:48 AM

Two young men who were in the Southampton Publick House on the night that Anthony Oddone choked one of the bar’s security men to death recounted how the encounter started and how other patrons attempted to stop it during testimony this week in Mr. Oddone’s murder trial in Riverhead.

Steven Goucher, who was sitting on a banquette just a few feet from where Mr. Oddone and two girls were dancing on a table, recalled that the bouncer, Andrew Reister, came over to Mr. Oddone and asked him to stop dancing on the table. Mr. Oddone asked Mr. Reister, who was wearing a dark blue golf shirt with the Publick House logo on it, if he worked at the bar. When Mr. Reister, an off-duty corrections officer who worked part-time at the Publick House on its busiest night of the week, answered “yes,” Mr. Oddone, a Farmingville man who worked as a caddy at a private golf club in Bridgehampton, profanely dismissed his request, Mr. Goucher testified on Thursday, October 15.

“One of the bouncers asked him to please get off the table,” said Mr. Goucher, 24, a Hampton Bays resident. “He said, ‘Do you work here?’ and the bouncer said, ‘Yes.’ Then the man on the table said, ‘F--- you.’”

Mr. Goucher said that the bouncer—he did not refer to either man by name—had spoken at the outset in a loud but calm voice. When Mr. Oddone rebuffed his request, however, Mr. Reister put one foot up on the table and shoved Mr. Oddone off and into the bench that runs along the front wall of the room, he recalled. “He didn’t use much force—he just raised his one foot and pushed him off,” Mr. Goucher said.

Mr. Goucher, the fifth witness for the prosecution called in the case, said that he grabbed the girl he had been talking to and led her out of the room as the violence started. When he turned around again, he said, he saw the man who had been dancing on the table with his arms wrapped around the bouncer’s throat.

Mr. Reister, a father of two who lived in Hampton Bays, died two days after the August 7, 2008, fight with Mr. Oddone, having never regained consciousness. Mr. Oddone is charged with murder in the second degree. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Earlier in the week, a 23-year-old female Dutch student recalled watching Mr. Oddone choke Mr. Reister even after the much larger man fell unconscious and collapsed on the bar floor.

On Wednesday, October 14, yet another prosecution witness told the jury he had tried to stop Mr. Oddone from choking Mr. Reister. John Cato, 24, told the jury that when Mr. Reister, whom he described as “burly,” fell to the floor face first, unconscious, with Mr. Oddone on his back, “it sounded like a tree going down. It was a really loud thud. He went down really hard.”

Mr. Reister’s widow, Stacey, wiped away tears in the courtroom audience as Mr. Cato recalled how Mr. Oddone held on to his chokehold even as other bar patrons and at least one other Publick House employee struck him in the head and body in an attempt to get him to release his grip.

“I said, ‘Dude, you’re f---ing killing him’—excuse my language,” Mr. Cato said while on the stand Wednesday afternoon. “I started hitting him in the back of the head. I used a closed fist. I was just trying to get his attention. I noticed he looked back and that he could see me in his peripheral vision.”

But, Mr. Cato recalled, Mr. Oddone seemed unfazed by the repeated blows and did not release his grip. When he finally did—then ran out a side door and fled in a taxi—Mr. Cato, an employee of the Southampton Yacht Club who was trained in CPR, rushed to the side of the unconscious bouncer along with an off-duty Southampton Town Police officer and another man. He shook the man and pinched him, trying to get him to wake up.

“I held his neck when we rolled him over,” he said. “He was very limp, his right eye was looking right and his other eye was looking left, and his mouth was full of blood. It was a chilling sight.”

On Friday, Kyle Baugher, a 29-year-old stockbroker from Manhattan, testified that he too tried breaking Mr. Oddone’s grip and warned him that he was hurting Mr. Reister. “I was yelling, ‘Get off him! He’s out!’” Mr. Baugher recalled. “He still had that grip around his neck. I gave a good tug and I got nothing. I couldn’t break his grip.”

Mr. Baugher, the other man who came to Mr. Reister’s aid after Mr. Oddone fled, said that when they rolled the unconscious bouncer over, his face was purple, his eyes were open and he wasn’t breathing.

During nearly three days of testimony and cross-examination this week, Southampton Village Police Officer John Rodecker, who pulled over the taxi in which Mr. Oddone had left the Publick House, testified about the arrest barely one minute after two frantic 911 calls had gone out from the bar. Officer Rodecker recalled noticing a smear of blood on Mr. Oddone’s right wrist when the man stepped out of the taxi, less than half a mile from the scene of the fight. He said he was careful not to call Mr. Oddone’s attention to the blood and handcuffed him behind his back so that he would not notice the potential evidence and try to wipe it off.

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Where is the update to this story??? There was a trial yesterday and the Southampton Press is showing itself as a second rate newspaper.
By HB 4 Life (72), Hampton Bays on Oct 27, 09 9:02 AM
2 members liked this comment
Hi Lifer,

There has indeed been trial proceedings each day this week. You may or may not have noticed that this story has been updated twice during the week since it was first posted. Officer Rodecker took up most of the first part of the week, primarily on cross-examination, with very technical testimony, recounting in exhausting detail every step he took from the time he pulled over the taxi with Mr. Oddone in it through to 7 am the next morning.

On Thursday and Friday two more ...more
By oswald (2), Mondauk on Oct 31, 09 10:31 AM
I think you might be right, INS. Good catch, if so. I don't write the headlines but I'll point it out to the editors.
By oswald (2), Mondauk on Nov 2, 09 9:25 AM
disagree. I find this paper to be far better than other local papers.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Oct 27, 09 12:37 PM
2 members liked this comment
I guess the trial isnt going on.
By HB 4 Life (72), Hampton Bays on Oct 28, 09 9:45 AM
HB remember this is a weekly paper not a daily. We have to be patient, they will provide updates just not as frequently as a daily publication like Newsday.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Oct 28, 09 10:40 AM
Thanks Michael for the fine reporting on this trial. We look forward to your next update.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 30, 09 8:35 PM