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Oddone jurors speak out on contentious deliberations

Anthony Oddone was found guilty of manslaughter after

Anthony Oddone was found guilty of manslaughter after a seven-week trial. Photo Credit: Facebook.com / Undated

Frances Oka, Juror No. 3 on the panel in the Anthony Oddone trial, was the last to come around.

"Everyone has what we were calling our 'Aha moments,' " she said Tuesday at her Medford home. "It just took me a little longer."

>> PHOTOS: Anthony Oddone's case and Andrew Reister's funeral

Ultimately, Oka joined the other 11 jurors Monday in finding Oddone, 27, guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the choking death of bar bouncer Andrew Reister.

Oka, 58, a retired corporate executive, declined to explain how she came to that defining moment or to discuss other details of the case.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated over nine days before reaching their verdict in the August 2008 death of Reister, a county correction officer who was moonlighting at the Southampton Publick House.

As the days wore on, lawyers, family members and other observers of the case wondered if the jury would ever come to a verdict.

Oka said she didn't want to let the amount of time they were in the deliberation room sway her opinion. She, like the rest of the jurors, had obligations to tend to outside the Riverhead courthouse, especially with the holidays looming.

"There will always be another Christmas for us," Oka said. "But Mr. Oddone's Christmas will never be the same, nor will there ever be another Christmas for Mr. Reister and his family."

Reister, 40, of Hampton Bays, was married with a young son and daughter. Oddone, of Farmingville, was a college senior working that summer as a golf caddie.

>>VIDEO: Click here to watch Andrew Reister's widow react after verdict

Deliberations grew tense in the final days, Oka and other jurors recalled.

"I was called a lot of things in that jury room," Oka said. But she tried to not let that detract from her duty as a juror.

Hours after the verdict, Juror No. 2, Tammy Buckley, posted comments on a Hamptons news Web site calling Oka biased. In one post, she directed her comment to three people, writing that the defense attorney, "Juror #3, and Alternate Juror (who carpooled with Juror #3) - KISS MY &^%!!!"

Tuesday night, outside her Manorville home, Buckley, 43, said she wrote the comments out of frustration.

"I got it out of my system," she said. "It's done."

Buckley, who said she finally got to start her Christmas shopping Tuesday, wouldn't talk about her feelings toward Oka and the amount of time it took to come to a unanimous decision.

"She was being true to herself," Buckley said. "I think we both grew a lot in that room."

Oka said she feels badly about any resentment toward her.

"I was there with two people's lives in my hands," she said, recalling seeing Oddone's mother and Reister's wife every day of the trial, which lasted more than two months.

"It was heartbreaking. They both lost something precious to them," she said. "One lost their son's freedom and one lost a husband's life."

>> PHOTOS: Anthony Oddone's case and Andrew Reister's funeral

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