He served five years in prison before a federal judge overturned his manslaughter conviction, but in the face of a new trial, a New York man pleaded guilty Wednesday to the felony charge in a deal with prosecutors that will not send him back behind bars, the Suffolk County DA said Feb. 19.
Anthony Oddone, 31, of Orange County, has been free on $500,000 cash bail after the state’s highest court ruled to overturn his first-degree manslaughter conviction in December. Since then, Suffolk County prosecutors have once again charged Oddone in connection with the 2008 death of an off-duty correction officer.
The officer, Andrew Reister, 40, of Hampton Bays, was moonlighting as a bouncer at a Southampton bar in August 2008, when he allegedly told Oddone to stop dancing on a table in the pub. After a dispute, the two men began to fight and Oddone allegedly held Reister in a headlock until he was unconscious. Reister was formally declared brain dead two days later.
Oddone was convicted after a jury trial and served more than five years in a state prison before the New York State Court of Appeals ruled his trial judge should have allowed his attorney to challenge a witness’ recollection about how long Reister was in a chokehold.
On Wednesday, Oddone pleaded guilty to the felony charge after Judge Randall Hinrichs agreed not to send him back to prison.
As part of the plea deal, Oddone will be formally sentenced to five years and four months in prison, which is the exact amount of time he served after his prior conviction. In addition to the time served behind bars, Oddone will be sentenced to five years of probation, prosecutors said.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said his office was confident they could have convicted Oddone again, but noted Reister’s family asked to be spared the trauma of a second trial.
“Their wishes were the primary factor in the decision to accept Oddone’s guilty plea,” a statement from the district attorney’s office said.
Oddone could not be reached Wednesday night for comment, but he did speak with reporters after being released from custody in late December. At the time, he said: “I’m just grateful to be with my friends and family and loved ones that supported m through this whole thing.”
Oddone is due back in court on March 19 for sentencing.