Opening statements were given Monday in the trial of a man charged with murdering a Nova Southeastern University professor in his home.
Randy Tundidor Sr., 45, is facing first-degree murder, robbery, kidnapping and arson charges in the April 6, 2010 killing of Dr. Joseph Morrissey at the Morrissey family's home in Plantation.
"Everything in this case comes down to one thing: absolute horror story," prosecutor Tom Coleman told the court. He said Tundidor slashed at Morrissey with a 15-inch hunting knife.
Police said Tundidor Sr. was a tenant of Morrissey's who had been involved in a dispute involving a personal injury lawsuit. Just four days before the murder, Morrissey had sent Tundidor a letter stating that he was in default of security deposits.
Morrissey's wife Linda told police that Tundidor Sr. may have known eviction proceedings were going to take place, authorities said.
Police say an armed intruder broke into the Morrissey home, forcing the couple to drive them to an ATM to withdraw $500. The robber or robbers tied the couple up, stabbed Dr. Morrissey, then set the house on fire.
Linda Morrissey and the couple's son escaped, but Dr. Morrissey was found dead on the back porch. Morrissey, 46, was a science professor at NSU who worked on cancer research.
Plantation Police Officer Daniel Hanes, who was the first officer at the scene and a neighbor, described seeing Linda Morrissey outside in court Monday.
"I saw a woman running toward my police car, she was frantic, waving her arms, obviously distraught and she was saying please help, my husband has been shot," Hanes said of the wife, who didn't realize at the time that her husband had been stabbed, not shot.
Police arrested Tundidor Sr. and his son, Randy Tundidor Jr. in the killing.
Last year, the 23-year-old Tundidor Jr. pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death as part of a plea deal that will have him testify against his father.
"It was Randy Jr., desperate for money for drugs, who went over and committed these crimes," Christopher Pole, the defense attorney for Tundidor Sr., said Monday. "You're going to find that Randy Sr. had no motivation to kill anybody."
If found guilty, Tundidor Sr. could face the death penalty.
The son will be sentenced after his father's trial.