FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – It was a gruesome crime. A beloved father and Nova Southeastern University professor stabbed to death. And his wife and young son escaping death from their home that had been torched.
On Friday, one of the men accused in the death of of Professor Joseph Morrissey, learned his fate.
Junior had testified against his father, Randy W. Tundidor pinning the actual stabbing on him. In exchange prosecutors took the death penalty off the table and downgraded Tundidor Junior’s charge to second-degree murder.
Tundidor Junior was sentenced to 40 years in state prison. It was not the outcome the victim’s family or the suspect’s family expected.
Morrisey’s widow, Linda had made an emotional plea in court arguing for the maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
She said that the crime had shattered her sense of safety and that she and her son will forever live in a life in prison of the “voices of that night, the smells and noises.”
“To see and touch and feel the dead body of a love one in pieces is a horrible excruciating thing. How can I explain the torture of the memories of that night,” Morrissey told the judge.
“It is so devestating to hear your little son speak of his dad’s last pleadings. It truly breaks my heart. Patrick was just five years old when he suffered his first episode of post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Morrissey.
Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato said the son’s willingness to testify against his father should be taken into consideration.
“I do believe without him the state would not have had a case.’’
Morrissey left the court in tears after the sentence was handed down.
“He didn’t even get the minimum, which was 41,” Morrissey said. “That’s horrible. Horrible. He’ll be out when my son is, how old will my little boy be? How am I going to go home and tell him that?”
For his part, Tundidor, Jr. apologized for his actions.
“If I could have stopped him, I would have,” Tundidor said. “I’m truly sorry. I know it’s not gonna mean anything but I’m sorry.”
Earlier this year, Tundidor Jr. laid out his side of the story to a Broward County jury. He said it all started two years ago when his dad called him and asked if he knew anyone that could scare his landlord because he was being evicted and Morrissey was destroying the family. Tundidor Jr. said he would do it.
Tundidor Jr. testified that he tied up Morrissey and his wife Linda, spoke to his father by walkie-talkie, and was told to search for anything of value. He also said he had on latex gloves and had a gun but told his dad he wasn’t going to shoot anybody.
When asked why they used walkie-talkies, he said it was because his dad told him “If they used a cell phone, they could be tracked.” He also said he covered the Morrissey’s heads with towels, “because he didn’t want them to see his dad because he knew they would recognize him.”
During the crime, the Morrissey’s were forced at gunpoint to drive to an ATM and withdraw cash.
“It was dad’s idea to get money from the ATM,” said Tundidor Jr. He went on to describe the trip and said Linda withdrew the cash because her husband was driving. Linda then gave the cash to Junior.
When they arrived back at the Morrissey’s Plantation home, he said he tied them up again with plastic ties and covered their heads with towels. He claimed his dad tried to find more stuff to steal. They found two laptops and he gave his dad the $500 cash from the ATM.
At this point, with the Morrissey’s tied up in the bedroom, Tundidor Jr. said he wanted to leave. His dad refused and reportedly said Joseph Morrissey “has to die.”
The younger Tundidor claimed that he told his dad he didn’t want to be involved in that, but his dad ordered him to retrieve Mr. Morrissey from the bedroom. The son testified his father put the gun to Morrisey’s head, but that it jammed. Tundidor Sr. then grabbed a knife and stabbed Morrisey twice, according to the son’s testimony.
The son said Tundidor Sr. poured gas around the living room and kitchen and lit it on fire. Morrisey’s wife Linda and her son both were able to escape the home.
Tundidor Sr. continues to say he is innocent of all the charges.
Tundidor Jr.’s attorney said that Randy has hope after the sentence was handed down Friday.
“He’s going in with a good attitude,” said defense attorney Patrick Rastatter. “He going to see light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming towards him.”
Tundidor Senior is expected to be sentenced in January.
He is facing the death penalty.