Defense Underway In Nova Professor Murder Trial
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South Florida Crime
FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – As his murder trial enters the second week, Randy Tundidor, Sr.’s defense team presented witnesses to refute claims he is a killer.
Tundidor, Sr. is charged with first degree murder in the stabbing death of Nova Southeastern University professor Joseph Morrissey.
Morrissey was killed and set on fire in his Plantation home in April 2010. Investigators said Tundidor was upset because Morrissey was intending to evict him from a townhome he rented from the professor.
His son, Randy Tundidor Junior has already testified that his father masterminded the crime and that he broke into the Morrissey house, robbed Morrissey and his wife and that Tundidor, Sr. killed Morrissey.
Randy Tundidor, Jr. has pleaded guilty to his part in the crime to avoid the death penalty.
The defense had three current Broward County Jail inmates testify that Randy Tundidor, Jr. told them that his father is innocent.
Clad in a black and white jail uniform, Robert Aulton told the jury that Randy, Jr. stated to him, “he needed to clear his dad of the wrongdoings he had created for him.”
Thomas Kennedy also clad in a jailsuit said that Randy, Jr. told him, “his father had nothing to do with the incident and he didn’t know who else to point the finger at but his father. He said his father is sick and gonna die anyway and he’d rather his father than him spend the rest of his life in prison.”
Inmate Badn Vurgos testified that Rand, Jr. told him, “His father had nothing to do with it.”
Jake Dunbrook who is out of jail testified that he shared a jail cell with Randy, Jr. for nearly a year and that Randy made an astonishing claim.
“‘He told me it was his little brother Rico and another guy but he didn’t specify who he was. He told me he did the crime, he killed the guy but he was blaming it on his dad so his little brother wouldn’t get in trouble.”
Randy Tundidor, Sr. has not made up his mind whether he will take the stand in his own defense.
Two doctors are being called to testify Tuesday about Tundidor Senior’s health at the time of the murder.
He is said to have suffered from asthma, a heart ailment and walked with a limp. His defense is that he was too frail to have the strength to stab Joseph Morrissey nine times, as investigators claim.
With the jury not present in the court room, Robert Stone told the judge that Tundidor Jr. told him on two occasions that he pinned the murder on his father so he could work out a deal with the state.
“He told me he was willing to testify against his father so he could work a deal with the state,’ said Stone.
After his testimony, the judge ruled that the jury would not hear from Stone. The defense then presented a second inmate who will be allowed to testify in front of the jury.
Prosecutors rested their case last Thursday; there was no court on Friday.
One of their star witnesses was Tundidor’s son. The two men barely made eye contact as Sean implicated his father in the murder. This was the second of Tundidor Sr.’s sons to testify against him.
Tundidor Jr., testified that his father was angry at Morrissey, from whom he rented a townhome, because he was about to be evicted. Tundidor Jr. agreed to testify against his dad as part of a plea deal he worked out with the state which took the death penalty off the table.
Tundidor Jr. said his dad called him and asked if he knew anyone who could scare his landlord and Randy Jr. said he would do it.
The younger Tundidor testified that he tied up Morrissey and his wife Linda and spoke to his father, who remained out of sight of the couple, by walkie-talkie. He said he was told to search for anything of value and had a gun but told his dad he wasn’t going to shoot anybody.
The Morrissey’s were forced at gunpoint to drive to an ATM and withdraw cash. Tundidor Jr. also testified that his dad wouldn’t let him leave and reportedly said Joseph Morrissey “has to die.”
The younger Tundidor claimed his dad tried to shoot Morrissey but the gun jammed. That’s when he used a knife to stab him repeatedly, according to Randy Jr.
Sean Tundidor said he heard about the murder on TV. He also said he heard their father, Randy Tundidor Sr., say “Nobody *expletive” with me.”
Sean said when he talked to his father about it, Randy Tundidor Sr. admitted to sending Randy Jr. into the home to rob it so he could have money to buy crack.
Sean said his suspicions deepened when he went to his father’s window tinting business and noticed something strange. Sean also recalled noticing a missing knife from a display case at his father’s business.
“It held knives. All of them were there except the big one. The box was on the floor,” said Sean.
Protective of his brother, Sean said he became upset when he saw that his father would let his brother take the fall for the murder. And so he began cooperating with police to have his father arrested.
Tundidor Sr., charged with murder, armed robbery, armed kidnapping, home invasion robbery and arson, could be sent to death row if convicted.