Bad medical evidence and a compromised juror combined to unfairly convict a man of manslaughter for choking a Southampton bouncer to death, an attorney argued Friday to a state appellate court in Brooklyn.
Anthony Oddone, 28, is serving 22 years in prison for the August 2008 death of Andrew Reister, an off-duty correction officer working at the Southampton Publick House.
After Reister tried to get Oddone to stop dancing on a table, Oddone wrapped his arm around Reister's neck until he was unconscious and kept it there after they toppled to the ground.
In a lengthy and wide-ranging argument to the Appellate Division's Second Department, Marc Wolinsky said Oddone acted reasonably in defending himself. He said a Suffolk deputy medical examiner overestimated how long Reister was choked and that holdout juror Frances Oka caved in after her son was arrested on drug charges.
But Assistant District Attorney Anne Oh said Oddone choked Reister far longer than necessary to defend himself, noting that people in the bar screamed at Oddone that he was killing Reister. "He was relentless. He wasn't letting go," Oh said.
Wolinsky said some forensic experts have said it takes only 10 to 15 seconds to kill a healthy person by compressing the carotid artery.
Yet he said Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. James Wilson testified that Reister's injuries took two or three minutes to cause, based on ruptured blood vessels in the eyes and other signs of strangulation. That testimony was at odds with other forensic experts, Wolinsky said.
"I can't overstate how prejudicial that was" because it undermined eyewitnesses who said Oddone spent less time with his arm around Reister's neck, Wolinsky said.
It took nine days in December 2009 for the jury to convict Oddone of first-degree manslaughter, with Oka the last holdout. Wolinsky said that before the last day of deliberations, her son was arrested. In an affidavit given to the defense, she said she feared authorities would take it out on her son if she caused a hung jury.
Oh said that's irrelevant, noting that jurors often feel remorse for verdicts afterward.
She said Wilson's testimony was consistent with eyewitnesses who described Oddone continuing to choke Reister for at least 30 seconds on the floor.
"That 30 seconds, where the defendant has the victim on the floor, is when any claim of self-defense leaves," she said.
The court usually decides such cases in a few weeks.