Sunday, April 11, 2010

Attorneys criticize police work in NSU professor’s slaying

Two lawyers had some harsh words for police Friday about their work in the case of a professor's slaying.

Randy Tundidor endured a SWAT team injury during his arrest.

Officers interrogated the 21-year-old man for hours before his lawyer could provide legal advice.

And police shut down his father's car-tinting business for three days in search of evidence, preventing Randy Tundidor Sr. from entering the building to retrieve an oxygen tank he needs for his ailments.

Lawyers for the Tundidor family leveled those allegations during a news conference in Fort Lauderdale on Friday, as they demanded to know whether anyone from the Tundidor family would be charged in the slaying of Nova Southeastern University professor Joseph Morrissey.

The younger Tundidor, who was taken into custody Wednesday, was not charged in Morrissey's death. He was arrested on a charge of failing to report to his probation officer for a 2006 burglary case, court records show.

"It's enough already. If the young man is guilty of something they need to tell us," said Jim Lewis, the younger Tundidor's lawyer. "Otherwise, they need to leave this family alone."

Police spokesman Detective Robert Rettig, who didn't attend the news conference, declined to respond to the lawyers' comments. He also said police had no new information to provide Friday.

Morrissey, 46, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences, was fatally stabbed Monday night during what police say was a home invasion and robbery. Police have said Morrissey's killing was not random, but have not given further details. Authorities say they have not ruled out that more than one person was involved.

Investigators say a man cut through a screen and entered an open window at Morrissey's house in the 600 block of Northwest 75th Terrace. The robber took Morrissey and his wife to a nearby ATM and forced them at gunpoint to withdraw cash, Rettig said.

Morrissey's wife, Linda, told police the man took them back home, tied them up, set fire to the kitchen and killed her husband before fleeing, Rettig said.

Morrissey's wife and the couple's young son, who was asleep at the time, escaped from the house and were unhurt.

Police picked up a "person of interest" at the Beverly Hills Cafe on Wednesday afternoon but have not released that person's name.

But Lewis said it was the younger Tundidor they nabbed, adding that his client suffered cuts and bruises, which are visible in his jail photograph, from officers forcibly taking him to the ground in the eatery.

Lewis said he asked police to let him speak with his client before they did, but "that request was not honored." Lewis also said Tundidor gave police a statement, but said police have declined to share with him what Tundidor said.

Lewis said the only connection he knows between the Tundidors and Morrissey is that Tundidor's father rents a Plantation townhome owned by Morrissey. Lewis said his client told him he's innocent.

"It is unfair that he is being classified in this light, as someone who's responsible for such a heinous crime," Lewis said.

Joseph Pappacoda, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer, said the elder Tundidor hired him Friday to help convince police to let him reopen Gator Tint, his car-tinting business in Plantation, which he has been unable to enter because police were still there investigating.

"Dad's position is that he's very hopeful that his son is going to be vindicated in this case. He [Randy Sr.] certainly doesn't have any knowledge or participation in anything," Pappacoda said.

Tundidor Jr.'s younger brother, Shawn, 19, said his brother is a drug addict, not a killer.

"He has a drug problem, and all of us have problems, unfortunately. We're all imperfect," Shawn Tundidor said. "He's innocent."

By Juan Ortega

Source: The Miami Herald

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