FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Opening statements began Monday in the case of a man accused of murdering a well known Nova Southeastern University professor.
Randy Tundidor Sr. is charged with the murder of Joseph Morrissey.
Tundidor allegedly planned the attack because he was about to be evicted from the home he rented from Morrissey, according to prosecutors.
During his opening, prosecutor Tom Coleman called the night Morrissey was killed a ‘horror story’ and laid out the night of the crime for the jury.
“Everything in this case comes back to one thing, an absolute horror story,” said Coleman. “Joseph Morrissey is woken up and what does he see but a gun pointed at this wife.”
On Monday one of Morrissey’s neighbors testified that he was awoken the night of the murder when his wife heard screams.
David Strickland said they heard a knock on their door and when they opened it five year old Patrick Morrissey said “my daddy’s on fire.”
Then they saw Morrissey’s wife Linda in the street.
“She was thrashing her arms and said they robbed us. I saw her wrists were tied,” said Strickland.
A crime scene specialist also testified that a gas container was found in the home. A fingerprint on the can was matched to Randy Tundidor Jr.
The prosecution’s key witness in their case is Tundidor’s son, Randy Tundidor Jr., who was with his dad when the crime took place.
Tundidor Jr. agreed to testify against his father in exchange for the death penalty being taken off the table.
Tundidor Sr.’s lawyer told the jury that it was his client’s son who killed Morrissey because he was a drug addict who was desperate for money. Tundidor Sr.’s attorney went on to say the night of Morrissey’s murder, Tundidor Sr. weighed 300 pounds, was on oxygen and had knee trouble so he was in no physical condition to commit the crime he’s accused of.
Tundidor Jr. reportedly told police he and his father broke into the Morrissey’s home in April 2010, forced Morrissey and his wife Linda to drive to a nearby ATM and withdraw money, then returned to the home where they tied up Linda and stabbed Morrissey to death.
They are also accused of setting a fire in the home before they left. Morrissey’s wife was able to escape after the couple’s five year old son, who had been a sleep in his room, brought his mother a pair of scissors which allowed her to cut through her bonds.
Tundidor Jr. faces up to life in prison when he’s sentenced.
Tundidor Sr., charged with murder, armed robbery, armed kidnapping, home invasion robbery and arson, could be sent to death row.