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Updated Oct 8, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Arizona death row inmate set for execution Wednesday

PHOENIX -- Barring last-minute action from the U.S. Supreme Court, Arizona intends to execute Edward Harold Schad Jr. Wednesday, nearly 35 years after he was charged with the murder of a Bisbee man.

Lawyers for the oldest inmate on the state's death row have all but exhausted their appeals, with just two final efforts at the nation's highest court still pending. That comes after a week where they failed to persuade a federal judge and an appeals court to block the execution.

Schad told the state's clemency board at a hearing last week that he has accepted his fate.

``I'm 71. I don't have many years left, but I would like to keep what I've got and maybe get a few more, experience some of the green grass outside maybe,'' he said while asking the board to commute his sentence to life in prison. ``If we have to go down that road on Oct. 9 ... I'll get my last rites. I'll go through that. I mean, I have no fear.''

The board declined to recommend commutation to Gov. Jan Brewer.

Schad was on parole for a murder in Utah that involved the accidental 1968 strangulation death of a male sex partner when he was accused of killing Lorimer ``Leroy'' Grove, 74. Grove's body was found south of Prescott on Aug. 9, 1978, with a rope knotted around his neck.

Schad was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to death, then retried and convicted a second time in 1985 after the previous conviction was thrown out. The conviction was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1989 but since has been tied up in a series of federal court appeals.

The most recent appeals have centered on whether Schad's trial lawyer failed to present evidence of mental illness at his sentencing. His lawyers also are trying to show that members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency are pressured by Brewer's staff to deny clemency in high-profile cases.

Schad, who was raised in the Syracuse, N.Y.-area, is the son of a World War II bomber gunner who was shot down and spent more than three years in a German prison camp. When he returned, the senior Schad suffered from alcoholism and mental illness and regularly abused his wife and his oldest son, according to a psychologist's report filed in court. The report concluded that the younger Schad, too, suffered from mental illness.

A top Yavapai County prosecutor told the clemency board that despite Schad's denial, he was twice convicted by juries that rejected his assertion of innocence.

``He doesn't take any responsibility for what he did,'' chief deputy Dennis McGrane told the board. ``Accidents two times, died of strangulation? I don't think so.''

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