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Home-invasion murder trial goes to jury

May 8, 2012 at 6:49 PM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 8 (UPI) -- A jury failed to reach a verdict Tuesday, its first day of deliberations in the trial of a Florida man accused in the home-invasion slaying of his landlord.

Randy W. Tundidor, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Joseph Morrissey, a Nova Southeastern University professor and researcher who rented a Plantation townhouse to Tundidor and his family.

The six-man, six-woman jury was sequestered at a secret location overnight and will resume its deliberations Wednesday, The Miami Herald reported.

If found guilty, Tundidor could face the death penalty. He also has been charged the attempted murder of Morrissey's wife and son, kidnapping, armed robbery and arson.

Prosecutors do not have a murder weapon or physical evidence placing Tundidor at the home at the time of the slaying in April 2010, the newspaper reported.

Tundidor's eldest son, Randy H. Tundidor, 23, who has testified in exchange for being spared the death penalty, said in court his father had plotted the crime and killed Morrissey, who was stabbed nine times with a 16-inch-long knife.

The younger Tundidor has admitted breaking into Morrissey's home, holding Morrissey and his wife Linda at gunpoint, binding their hands and feet, going through their house searching for valuables and forcing them to drive to an ATM to withdraw cash, the Herald said

The younger Tundidor said his father poured gasoline around Joseph Morrissey's body and the kitchen area of the house and lit the house on fire with Linda Morrissey, bound, and the couple's 5-year-old son in the master bedroom.

Assistant State Attorney Tom Coleman said the elder Tundidor tricked his son, an admitted crack addict, into taking part in the crime by saying he was only going to scare the landlord.

The elder Tundidor's defense attorney, Christopher Pole, said it was more likely the younger Tundidor, desperate for drugs, robbed and murdered Joseph Morrissey.

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