MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) — A death row inmate in Alabama who maintained his innocence and waged a high-profile but unsuccessful legal battle to overturn his conviction has died.
A legal team spokesperson said 60-year-old William Ernest Kuenzel died at Holman Correctional Institution on Saturday. Kuenzel was convicted in 1988 of killing Linda Jean Offord during a 1987 robbery at a convenience store. His trial lasted a day and a half with his conviction being based largely on plea deal testimony from his roommate.
Kuenzel’s lawyers said they later discovered evidence that cast doubt on that testimony. In 2015, News 19 spoke with Kuenzel’s court-appointed attorney from his trial in 1988, Bill Willingham.
Willingham said there were several instances where evidence and testimony that could have helped Kuenzel were not shared with the defense. Including testimony from a witness who initially told investigators and a grand jury that she couldn’t see who was in the convenience store at the time of the robbery but testified at Kuenzel’s trial that she saw him with his roommate inside the store.
The case drew several prominent supporters, including actor Sam Waterston and former U.S Attorney General Edwin Meese but the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 declined to review the case.