BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The state of Alabama is holding an innocent man on death row and refuses to hear evidence that might set him free. That, according to lawyers, religious leaders and even a well known actor who spoke at a news conference in Birmingham on Monday morning.
William Kuenzel was sentenced to death for the 1987 robbery and murder of a Sylacauga convenience store clerk. Kuenzel has always maintained his innocence, and two decades later after the murder, new evidence was found that many say would set him free.
In 2012, Kuenzel’s defense team uncovered new evidence that his roommate had a shotgun that could have been used in the killing, and that Kuenzel might not have been at the crime scene.
Monday, a group spoke at a news conference in Birmingham to shed light on the case. Actor Sam Waterston, star of the TV series Law and Order, is among the group that plans to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the Alabama Supreme Court.
“This case isn’t about anybody’s feelings about capital punishment. It’s about an injustice done, being done, continuing to be done to an innocent man and the remedy is not to forget about it but to just look at the facts,” said Waterston.
Waterston previously filmed a movie in support of Kuenzel. He and Kuenzel’s attorneys say crucial evidence was withheld by prosecutors during the trial and was only discovered, by accident, more than two decades after the conviction.
State courts have refused to hear the evidence because Kuenzel’s previous legal team missed the deadline to file the proper appeal.
Last December, the Alabama Supreme Court set Kuenzel’s execution for March 2015. In February, the court granted him a stay until further notice.
In July, Kuenzel lost an appeal before the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. He remains on death row at Holman Prison in Atmore.