Convicted of first-degree murder, Randy W. Tundidor still maintains he’s innocent — even though he wouldn’t put up a fight Monday to save himself from Florida’s Death Row.
With his paradoxical default, Tundidor made it easier for a Broward Circuit Court jury to recommend unanimously that he get death instead of life in prison for the violent home invasion that could have been scripted by Quentin Tarantino.
The 12-person jury deliberated for less than two hours before recommending the stiffest punishment possible for Tundidor, who was found guilty in May of stabbing Joseph Morrissey, his landlord, to death and then setting his Plantation home on fire while the victim’s wife and son were in a nearby bedroom.
Tundidor, 45, a pasty, overweight man dressed in black-and-white prison garb instead of civilian clothes, remained stoic when the jury’s death penalty was read in court.
Afterward, the victim’s widow, Linda Morrissey, said she was going home to play LEGOS with her son — though the jury’s decision seemed to impart little solace for the horrific death of her 46-year-old husband, Joseph Morrissey.
“At the end of the day, I still go home without a husband and my son without a dad,” she said, thanking the jurors, judge, police and prosecutors. “But I guess you could say the state had a good day today.”
Tundidor, formerly of Plantation, was convicted by the same Broward County jury of 10 felony criminal charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, armed kidnapping, burglary and arson.
Monday morning, the jury of six men and six women reconvened to hear testimony and begin deliberating whether to recommend life in prison or Death Row for the 2010 murder of Morrissey, an assistant professor and science researcher at Nova Southeastern University who had rented a town house to Tundidor.
Defense attorney Richard Rosenbaum said he was prepared to argue for his client to be sentenced to life in prison, but Tundidor ordered him not to call any witnesses — such as a psychologist — on his behalf.
“I was curtailed today by not being able to present any mitigating evidence,” Rosenbaum said. “There was substantial mitigating evidence that I think would have prompted a reasonable jury to come back with a life recommendation, but Mr. Tundidor wouldn’t let me use it,” he said, adding that he could not elaborate.
“He does maintain his innocence,” Rosenbaum said. “He said that he didn’t do it. He said that all along. ... He didn’t want to drag his family through the mud.”
Rosenbaum said Tundidor wants a new trial, and his defense team will be filing a motion to that effect on Tuesday.
Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato will have the final say on Tundidor’s punishment. Rarely do judges stray from a jury’s recommendation. Her decision likely won’t come until early next year.
Jurors reached their guilty verdict after a nearly two-week trial that included dramatic testimony from Morrissey’s wife, Tundidor’s two sons and his girlfriend.
In August 2011, Tundidor’s oldest son, Randy H. Tundidor, 23, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder to avoid the death penalty.
During his father’s trial, Randy H. Tundidor testified that he broke into the Morrisseys’ home, held the couple at gunpoint, bound their hands and feet with plastic ties, rummaged through their house for valuables and forced them to drive to an ATM to withdraw cash.