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US appeals court blocks Arizona execution

PHOENIX -- A federal appeals court on Friday blocked next week's scheduled execution of an Arizona death-row inmate who was convicted of killing a Bisbee man nearly 35 years ago.

A panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Edward Harold Schad cannot be executed while a District Court judge considers whether Schad was denied effective legal representation after his 1979 conviction.

A prosecutor said, however, that the Attorney General's Office would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the stay.

The stay also applies to any resulting appeal, the court's one-page order said.

The Attorney General's Office had opposed the request for a stay by Schad's lawyers, saying there was no requirement to block the execution set for Wednesday because of what's happened in court so far.

Schad, now 70, was sentenced to death for murdering 74-year-old Lorimer ``Leroy'' Grove, of Bisbee, in August 1978. Grove's body was found in Yavapai County.

Schad's execution would be Arizona's 34th since 1992. Most recently, Richard Dale Stokley, convicted of murdering two 13-year-old girls in Cochise County in 1991, was put to death by lethal injection Dec. 5.

Schad was convicted in October 1979 of first-degree murder and sentenced to death, but the conviction was overturned on the grounds that the trial judge improperly instructed the jury. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death again in a 1985 retrial.

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