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Week ends without verdict in Oddone murder trial

Police mug shot of Anthony Oddone, 25, of

Police mug shot of Anthony Oddone, 25, of Farmingville. (August 2008)

The jury in the Anthony Oddone murder trial will return Monday to Suffolk County Court in Riverhead for a ninth day of deliberations after the panel did not reach a verdict Friday.

The jury went home about 8:30 p.m. Friday at the end of a long day that included a heated battle between County Court Judge C. Randall Hinrichs and Oddone's attorney, Sarita Kedia, who had asked the judge to declare a mistrial or remove a juror. The jury was not present for the courtroom wrangling.

Stacey Reister - the widow of Suffolk correction officer Andrew Reister, whose August 2008 death led to murder charges against Oddone - said Friday night that she is "completely exhausted." She has attended every day of the two-month trial.

"My kids don't even know who I am," she said of the couple's son, 9, and daughter, 5. "We're doing the best we can. What else can we do?"

The jurors "have to do their jobs," she said. "You have to trust that. You have to trust the system."

The jury Friday night asked to hear testimony from two witnesses and see photos. The witness testimony will be read in court Monday.

Prosecutors say Oddone, 27, of Farmingville, choked Andrew Reister, 40, of Hampton Bays, who was moonlighting as a bouncer at the Southampton Publick House in Southampton.

Numerous witnesses testified they saw Oddone choking Reister after Reister asked him to stop dancing on a table and the two exchanged words. Oddone's lawyer has said Oddone acted in self-defense.

Earlier Friday, jury deliberations halted for more than two hours as Hinrichs rebuffed repeated, heated requests by Kedia for removal of Juror No. 2 for discussing the deliberations with an alternate juror. Another juror, whom Kedia identified as Juror No. 3, reported the conversation between Juror No. 2 and the alternate juror, Kedia said.

"This is no small misconduct," Kedia said, adding that Juror No. 2 had been the subject of previous allegations of misconduct.

Hinrichs said Juror No. 2 violated rules prohibiting jurors from discussing the case with nonjurors. But he said the juror's conversation with the alternate juror was meant to give the alternate "some clue" about the status of deliberations while the two alternate jurors were "in isolation" during almost two weeks of deliberations.

"Should that juror have done that?" Hinrichs said. "Absolutely not." He said, however, that the conversation "does not rise to the level of misconduct."

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