William Kuenzel's chances of living to see his April 7 appeal hearing increased Tuesday, when Kuenzel's lawyers filed a motion for a stay of execution — and Alabama’s attorney general didn't oppose the motion.
Kuenzel, 53, is on death row for the 1987 murder of Linda Jean Offord, a Sylcacauga convenience store clerk. Last year, the Alabama Supreme Court scheduled him for execution by lethal injection March 19, but a state appeals court later agreed to consider his case in a hearing in early April, more than two weeks after the scheduled execution.
"The state's motion to set an execution date seems to have been made as a matter of routine, despite the fact that an appeal was pending," Kuenzel's lawyers said in their motion. Mike Lewis, spokesman for the attorney general's office, confirmed that the state was not opposing the motion.
Kuenzel has long maintained his innocence, saying he wasn't in the convenience store at the time of the shooting. No fingerprint or blood evidence connected Kuenzel to the crime, but a co-defendant, who testified in exchange for a lesser sentence, identified Kuenzel as the assailant.
In addition to his capital murder conviction, Kuenzel also pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe a witness to provide him with an alibi in the case.
Kuenzel is one of two inmates who were originally scheduled for execution early this year. Thomas Arthur, convicted in the murder-for-hire of a Muscle Shoals man, was scheduled for execution Feb. 19, but a federal judge stayed his execution while Arthur challenges the constitutionality of the state's lethal injection protocol.