Featured Case #32
On the night of November 9, 1987 in Sylacauga, Alabama, Linda Jean Offord was working the night shift at “Joe Bob’s Crystal Palace” convenience store. Some time between 11.05 p.m. and 11.20 p.m., she was shot during the course of an attempted robbery and later died as a result of her injuries. Following several witness statements identifying him at the store, Harvey Venn was subsequently arrested.
Two days later, implicated by Venn as an accomplice, Billy Kuenzel was also arrested. Billy was 25 years old at the time and Harvey Venn was just 18. During their initial incarceration, both men were separately offered a “plea bargain”. Billy, knowing himself to be innocent and nowhere near the scene of the crime, refused. Harvey Venn, a self confessed accomplice who first denied and then admitted his involvement in the crime took them up on the offer. He changed his story and pointed the finger instead at Billy in return for an 8-10 year prison sentence.
Billy was charged and convicted for the murder of Linda Jean Offord based almost entirely on the testimony of Harvey Venn along with the testimony of 16 year old April Harris who had passed by “Joe Bob’s Crystal Palace” in a car driven by her friend Crystal Epperson on the night in question. During the trial, Harris testified that she had seen Harvey Venn’s car parked outside the store sometime between 10.15pm and 11pm. She claimed to have witnessed two people inside the store who she identified as Venn and Kuenzel but that she could not see the cashier. Harris was not questioned very much further on this matter and nobody questioned the fact that the car would have been at least 200 feet away and that it was dark and it was raining. From the angle she claimed to have approached the store, it would be impossible to have a clear view of anyone inside, even on a clear day. The defense also failed to cross examine April Harris about the fact her testimony contradicted Venn’s trial testimony that he never even entered the store that night. Moreover, whoever April Harris believed she had seen, she saw them before the incident took place.
There is further evidence which forms a very strong case for innocence, please refer to the excellent website,http://www.justiceforbillykuenzel.com/ and this video narrated by American actor Sam Waterson which clearly explains how the jury was wrongly persuaded of William’s involvement : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xcp_NgZFmY
Note: Appeal hearing (Oral Arguments) April 7, 2015, after a stay was granted on 11 February 2015.
High Priority case : Please take a look without delay.