CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) _ A condemned inmate who had asked to die before Christmas changed his mind at the last minute and sought a stay of execution.

Carson City District Judge Mike Fondi granted Jimmy Lee Neuschafer the stay Wednesday evening, less than six hours before he was to voluntarily die by lethal injection for killing a fellow convict in 1981, Nevada State Prison spokesman Glenn Whorton said.

Neuschafer, 37, already had been taken to a ''last night'' cell near the death chamber and had eaten what was to be his final meal when he contacted his attorneys and asked them to seek the stay.

Robert Bryan, a leader of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said he had told Neuschafer on Wednesday that his execution would only make it easier for other executions of inmates who didn't want to die, including some who may be innocent.