William “Billy” Kuenzel, Alabama

 

Update: Monday, March 9, 2015 1:42 pm EDT

William “Billy” Ernest Kuenzel was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CDT, on Thursday, March 19, 2015, at the Holeman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. William’s execution has been stayed. Fifty-two-year-old William is convicted of murdering Linda Jean Offord on November 9, 1987, in a convenience store in Sylacauga, Alabama. William has spent the last 26 years on Alabama’s death row.

According to William’s mother, his father was absent for much of William’s childhood. William never graduated from high school. William had a history of drug abuse and was addicted to valium and alcohol. William had previously been arrested for theft and burglary. He was employed as a welder at the Madex Corporation plant in Goodwater, Alabama prior to the murder.

William Kuenzel was living with fellow co-worker Harvey Venn in 1987. On November 9, 1987, the two men were “cruising” around Sylacauga in Venn’s vehicle, drinking beer and smoking pot. Around 5:00 pm, they stopped at Joe Bob’s Crystal and Convenience Store and bought food and diet pills. Linda Offord was working the cash register that night. They stopped in again around 8:30 pm.

According to Venn, shortly thereafter, Kuenzel suggested that they rob the convenience store. Kuenzel thought it would be easy, “just go in there with the gun and scare the lady out of the money.” Between the two of them, they had at least four guns.

 

Between 10:00 and 11:00 pm, several people saw Venn and his vehicle at the store. They also confirmed that there was a second individual with Venn, although no one saw him clearly enough to identify him.

 

Again, according to Venn, around 11:00 pm, when everyone had left, Kuenzel exited the car and covered the license plate with a paper sack. Venn then pulled up beside the front door and stayed in the vehicle while Kuenzel entered the store with a gun and wearing a ski mask. There was no one in the store except Linda.

 

Venn testified that he heard a shot and saw the cashier fall backwards. It was later determined that she was shot with buckshot, which Kuenzel had with him. Kuenzel ran out of the store and told Venn to drive away. According to Venn, Kuenzel told him that he did not mean to shoot the worker. Kuenzel also said that the woman refused to give him the money. Linda was found alive by another employee approximately 15 minutes later. Linda died on the way to the emergency room.

 

Venn and Kuenzel returned home, where Kuenzel took the shotgun shells and placed them in a sack and threw it in a burn barrel.

 

Venn alleged that when police contacted him, he told Kuenzel, who told him to tell police that they were at a friend’s house. On November 14, Kuenzel consented to having his apartment searched. On November 16, police executed a search warrant at their home. A shot gun shell was found and later determined to likely be the same as the one that killed Linda. Blood from the victim was also found on Venn’s pants. No other blood was found outside of the crime scene.

 

Venn agreed to plead guilty and testify against Kuenzel in exchange for a lighter sentence. He was the star witness against Kuenzel. Venn was released after serving 10 years on prison.

 

During Kuenzel’s trial, it was revealed that his mother attempted to pay another man to claim that he was with Venn the night of the murder. She attempted to explain her actions saying that the justice system was corrupt and she did the wrong thing while trying to clear her son’s name.

 

It was later discovered that prosecutors hid important evidence from Kuenzel’s attorneys during his trial, including Venn’s original confession, in which he says he with another individual. Kuenzel has always claimed to be innocent of the crime, claiming he was at home in bed during the time of the murder. Kuenzel’s step-father testified that he saw Kuenzel in bed around the time of the crime.

 

William Kuenzel was granted a stay of execution by the Supreme Court of Alabama. The stay was not opposed by the state. The stay was granted “pending further orders” of the court.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Linda Offord. Please pray for strength for the family of William. Please pray that if William is innocent, evidence will be revealed prior to his execution. Please pray that William may come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already.

 

 

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