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PHOENIX -- Prison officials in Arizona are awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court about whether the execution of a death row inmate will go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday.

Edward Schad was scheduled to be executed at the state prison in Florence for his conviction for murdering 74-year-old Lorimer ``Leroy'' Grove of Bisbee in 1978.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the execution of the 70-year-old Schad, but lawyers for the state are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let the execution go ahead as planned.

The state also asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to overturn the 9th Circuit's ruling that a lower-court judge needs to consider whether Schad was denied effective legal representation after his 1979 conviction. The 9th Circuit had rejected the state's request for a hearing to reconsider its ruling.

Prison officials are prepared to go ahead with the execution if the Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for the execution.

His lawyers say Schad has more than paid for his murder conviction in Grove's death and that no purpose would be served by his execution.

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.

Grove disappeared on his way to visit his sister in Washington state.

His body was found eight days later south of Prescott in underbrush off the shoulder of U.S. 89. A sash-like cord that had been used to strangle Grove was still knotted around his neck when the body was discovered.

Authorities say Schad drove Grove's car across the country for a month, used Grove's credit cards and forged a check from the victim's bank account.

Before his murder conviction in Arizona, Schad was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 1968 death of Clare Odell Mortensen in Utah, according to court records.

The doctor who conducted the autopsy believed the death in Salt Lake City was caused by Mortensen's neck being so tightly bound that it cut off the flow of blood to his head- and that the asphyxiation was done to heighten pleasure during sex between the two men.

Authorities said Schad bought a plane ticket with Mortensen's credit card after the death. Lawyers for Schad had argued Mortensen's death was an accident that occurred during consensual sex.

Schad was eventually paroled in the Utah case.

Associated Press,

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