Son to spend 40 years in prison for helping his father murder Nova professor

Randy H. Tundidor, 24, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for helping his father murder a Nova Southeastern University professor. Tundidor accepted a plea bargain to testify against his father, who faces the death penalty.

12/07/2012 12:00 AM

12/07/2012 4:42 PM

Linda Morrissey described the lasting pain of her husband’s brutal home-invasion murder to a Broward circuit judge Friday morning during sentencing for one of the two men accused of the gruesome killing in April 2010.

Then Morrissey left the courtroom with even more pain, after the judge handed down a sentence of 40 years in prison.

The punishment was lighter than the one requested by Morrissey, who had asked that Randy H. Tundidor, 24, spend the rest of his life in prison for helping his father, Randy W. Tundidor, 46, break into the Morrissey home and brutally stab to death Joseph Morrissey, a Nova Southeastern University professor.

The men also bound the Morrisseys by their hands and feet, and set their house on fire, leaving Linda Morrissey and the couple’s son, Patrick, who was 5-years-old at the time, behind to die.

“The value of human life is shown by the punishment,’’ Linda Morrissey said before the sentence was handed down. “The entire family believes that junior deserves to die. We recommend that he receive life in prison without the possibility of parole.’’

Broward Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Imperato acknowledged Morrissey’s traumatic experience and its devastating aftermath.

“It has to be the most awful, horrific night that anyone would have to live through,’’ Imperato said.

But the judge said the younger Tundidor had struck a deal with prosecutors, and helped them win a first-degree murder case against his father, who was found guilty by a Broward jury in May and now faces the death penalty.

“I do believe without him the state would not have had a case,’’ Imperato said of the younger Tundidor.

Tundidor testified in April during his father’s trial that he thought they were going to the Plantation home of Joseph Morrissey, the elder Tundidor’s landlord, to scare him on the night of the murder.

The elder Tundidor was upset with Morrissey over a letter demanding overdue rent, according to the younger Tundidor’s testimony.

Patrick Rastatter, Randy H. Tundidor’s defense attorney, told the judge that his client had been the victim of a controlling father, and that he never suspected that murder was in the plans when they went to Morrissey house.

“He’s always just been a tool of his father, for good or bad,’’ Rastatter said. “His father was an evil person who controlled and dominated junior and would have him do evil things.’’

The judge’s sentence capped an emotional morning in court, and closed the chapter on a horrific crime that shocked Broward for its brutality.

Linda Morrissey was the first to address the court. Reading from a prepared statement, she spoke of the great loss suffered by her family and the scientific community to which Joseph Morrissey dedicated his career.

Choking up at times, Morrissey recalled how she could not hold her husband’s hand to say her last goodbye as he laid in a casket at the funeral. His hand had been mangled by the 16-inch Bowie knife prosecutors say the elder Tundidor used in the attack.

“He would give me bear hugs every day,’’ Linda Morrissey said, describing her husband as a devoted Catholic and family man who read the Bible to their son every night and spent every day after work teaching Patrick how to play hockey at Pines Ice Arena.

“Memories are difficult to endure,’’ she said.

Also painful are the recurring flashbacks to the night of April 5, 2010.

“My son and I will forever live a life in prison,’’ she added, noting how neither can forget the sights, sounds and smells of that night Joseph Morrissey was murdered and they were left behind to die in a fire.

Patrick, she said, suffers from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

“We quietly stay indoors,’’ Morrissey said. “We think the boogey man is going to come back to finish the job.’’

Shackled and dressed in the black-and-white-striped jump suit reserved for maximum security inmates at Broward County Jail, the younger Tundidor sat in the jury box alone. In August 2011, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder to avoid the death penalty.When his turn came to speak, he addressed Linda Morrissey in the gallery.

“I know it’s not going to mean anything,’’ he said, “but I would like to tell Mrs. Morrissey that I’m truly sorry for what happened. If I could have stopped him, I would have. I’m just truly sorry. I know it’s not going to mean anything.’’

Linda Morrissey looked away, an angry expression on her face.

After sentencing, she left the courtroom in disappointment.

“We lost,’’ Linda Morrissey said in the hallway. “He didn’t even get the minimum, which is [42] years. He’ll be out when my son is what [age]? How am I going to be able to go home and tell him that?’’

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