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Edward Harold Schad Jr., oldest Ariz. death row inmate, executed for 1978 murder

Edward Harold Schad Jr. was executed in Ariz. nearly 35 years after he was charged with murdering a Bisbee man.
CBS affiliate KPHO
Edward Harold Schad Jr. was executed in Ariz. nearly 35 years after he was charged with murdering a Bisbee man.
CBS affiliate KPHO

(CBS/AP) FLORENCE, Ariz. - The oldest person on Arizona's death row has been executed nearly 35 years after being charged with killing a Bisbee man.

Edward Harold Schad Jr., 71, was denied a final appeal two hours before his execution on Wednesday morning.

Schad was given a lethal dose of pentobarbital at the state prison in Florence, and was pronounced dead at 10:12 a.m.

In his final hours, Schad thanked his lawyers and corrections officers who watched over him during the 35 days since his execution was scheduled, said Kelley Henry, a federal public defender who helped represent him.

Schad was on parole for the accidental 1968 strangulation death of a male sex partner in Utah when he was accused of killing Lorimer "Leroy" Grove, 74. He was arrested in Utah while driving Grove's Cadillac several weeks after Grove's body was found on Aug. 9, 1978, south of Prescott. There was a rope knotted around the victim's neck.

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

Schad was convicted in Grove's death in 1979 and again in 1985 after the first 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 U.S. Supreme Court in June lifted a stay put in place by an appeals court, ordering the court to issue the execution authorization.

Schad has maintained he didn't kill Grove, but he 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," Schad 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."

A top Yavapai County prosecutor told the clemency board that juries have twice rejected Schad's assertion of innocence.

"He doesn't take any responsibility for what he did," Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane told the board. "Accidents two times, died of strangulation? I don't think so."