FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – He was polite, but often defensive. He appeared calm, but occasionally raised his voice to make a point. And, Randy Tundidor Sr. was firm in his convictions, though he never lost sight of reality: that he was a convicted killer, awaiting a decision as to whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison or die by lethal injection.
Last month, a jury recommended death for Randy Tundidor, Sr. after he was convicted in May in the death of Dr. Joseph Morrissey, a professor at Nova Southeastern University.
"I'm not going to beg for my life for something I didn't do," Tundidor told Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin. "I'm innocent -- and I'm going to prove it."
The jury convicted Tundidor of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, robbery, arson, and burglary in May. Prosecutors said Tundidor recruited his crack-addicted son, Randy Tundidor Jr., to help carry out his murderous plot to settle a dispute over money with Morrissey, who was his landlord. The 46-year-old father was stabbed nine times with a hunting knife before Randy Tundidor Sr. set the house on fire, investigators said. Morrissey's wife and 5-year-old son survived.
"Honestly, I thought we had it beat, that the evidence took care of it," said Tundidor.
"You weren't expecting to hear a guilty verdict?" asked Turchin.
"No. Absolutely not," answered Tundidor.
The interview with Tundidor lasted about an hour and was recorded.
"I think I know your answer, but I'm going to ask, anyway: did you have anything to do with the murder?" asked Turchin.
"No," said Tundidor.
"Were you in the house?" said Turchin.
"Hell no," said replied Tundidor.
Tundidor told Turchin he was at his window tinting shop the night Morrissey was killed and said there was no physical evidence tying him to the house. The murder weapon, believed to be a 16-inch hunting knife, has never been found.
But Tundidor couldn't explain why Linda Morrissey, the professor's wife, insisted she heard her husband beg him for mercy.
Tundidor told Turchin he wasn't surprised that his son, Randy Tundidor Jr., testified against him.
"Everybody was protecting themselves and running for cover and throwing me under the bus," said Tundidor.
Tundidor Jr. told police he tied up the professor and his wife and drove them to an ATM to withdraw cash, but said his father stabbed the professor nine times.
"I thought we were going to go and just scare him a little bit," testified Tundidor Jr. "And, my dad said, 'Where's Joe at?' And, I told him that they're in the room. 'He said, 'Oh, he has to die.'"
"How do you explain that?" asked Turchin. "He threw his father under the bus, right?"
"That's right," answered Tundidor.
"How do you explain that?" replied Turchin.
"I think that he was scared, and I think that he was protecting his younger brother, who was the actual party that was with him," said Tundidor.
Tundidor said his youngest son, Shawn, was actually behind the murderous plot.
"Shawn is a master manipulator. He could win a Grammy, an Oscar. It's amazing," said Tundidor. "And personally, I think, I know, Shawn's the leader, not Randy."
Shawn agreed to wear a wire to prove his father, not his brother, was the killer.
"Why my boys did what they did -- I can't say," said Tundidor. "And, I don't believe they have the right to do this to me."
Tundidor maintained his innocence during the conversation with Turchin.
"I'm not lying to you, John," said Tundidor.
"Put yourself in my place. If you're standing in my shoes, you look guilty to me," said Turchin.
"Yeah," replied Tundidor.
Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato is scheduled to sentence Tundidor in January.