By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Alabama death row inmate who waged a high-profile but unsuccessful legal battle to overturn his conviction, maintained his innocence throughout his incarceration, died last Saturday, Feb. 19.
William Ernest Kuenzel, 60, died Saturday at Holman Correctional Facility after a battle with cancer, according to a spokesperson for his legal team.
Kuenzel was convicted in 1988 of killing Linda Jean Offord during a 1987 robbery at a convenience store in Sylacauga. His conviction was based largely on testimony from his roommate, who admitted under a plea deal that he was at the crime scene but said Kuenzel went into the store and killed the clerk.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 refused to review Kuenzel’s case.
Kuenzel lawyers said they found out decades after the conviction that a teenage witness — who testified she saw both men at the convenience store — initially told a grand jury that she wasn’t certain who she saw. Defense lawyers said the roommate, who had blood on his pants after the murder and also had injuries, also had a shotgun of the same gauge used to kill Offord.
Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, who served under President Ronald Reagan, urged the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case to “ensure that the compelling constitutional claims of a man who is very likely actually innocent are resolved on the merits.”