The trial for a man charged with murdering a Nova Southeastern University professor resumed Monday as defense attorneys began to present their case.
Randy Tundidor Sr., 45, faces first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and arson charges in the April 2010 killing of Dr. Joseph Morrissey.
Prosecutors say Morrissey was in the process of evicting Tundidor Sr., his tenant, when Tundidor Sr. murdered him in his Plantation home with the help of his son, Randy Tundidor Jr.
Tundidor Jr., 23, who is also charged in the murder, testified against his father last week, telling the jury Tundidor Sr. recruited him to put "a scare" into Morrissey.
But on Monday the defense for Tundidor Sr. called four inmates and one former inmate from the Broward County Main Jail to testify – and all of them said they befriended Tundidor Jr. in jail and that he told them his father was innocent.
"He told me he would not let his brother go down for this, his dad was in bad health, said he'd rather let his father die in prison than for his brother to go," said Thomas Kennedy, who's currently in the maximum security section of the jail.
Shawn Tundidor told police his father had confessed to the murder, according to an arrest affidavit released just days after the killing, though he denied making the statements after that.
During his testimony last week, Tundidor Jr. said his father told him Morrissey "has to die" and said he watched his father stab Morrissey in the stomach twice.
Prosecutors say the Morrissey house was set on fire after the stabbing. Morrissey's wife, Linda, and the couple's 5-year-old son were able to escape the burning home.
Tundidor Jr. agreed to testify against his father as part of a plea deal in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He will be sentenced after his father's trial.
The attorneys for Tundidor Sr. claim the son murdered Morrissey. Tundidor Sr. could face the death penalty if found guilty.
Morrissey, 46, was a science professor at Nova who worked on cancer research.
On Monday defense attorney Chris Pole conferred with Tundidor Sr. to decide whether he will take the stand in his own defense. Pole said his client will decide after their next two witnesses testify Tuesday.
Monday's hearing took a colorful turn when prosecutor Tom Coleman, cross-examining one of the inmates brought in as a defense witness, asked Robert Stone why he told a police officer that he was a Viking vampire.
The defense objected, and Coleman told the judge, "It goes directly to his credibility if he's claiming to be a mythological monster, why should a jury listen or believe anything he has to say?"
Stone's lawyer then told his client to take the Fifth and not testify.