Cronkite Header

Cronkite News has moved to a new home at Use this site to search archives from 2011 to May 2015. You can search the new site for current stories.

Supreme Court vacates stay of execution for Arizona death-row inmate

Email this story
Print this story

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday reversed a lower court’s stay of execution for Edward Schad, an Arizona prisoner who has spent decades on death row for the 1978 murder of a Bisbee man.

The high court said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals abused its discretion when it ordered more hearings for Schad after “an extensive series of state- and federal-court proceedings” in the decades-old case. It vacated the stay and ordered the circuit court to act “immediately and without further proceedings.”

A spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne welcomed the court’s unanimous ruling. Stephanie Grisham said Monday it “is going to provide some closure” for the families of Schad’s victims.

An attorney for Schad declined comment  on the ruling.

Schad was first convicted of murder in 1979 in the strangling death of a Bisbee man, Lorimar Grove, who was driving to visit his sister in Washington state when he disappeared on Aug. 1, 1978. Grove’s decomposing body was discovered eight days later on the side of a highway near Prescott.

Schad was stopped in New York driving Grove’s rental car but released. He was later arrested in Utah and charged in the killing.

He was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to death, but that conviction was overturned because of faulty jury instructions. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced again in 1985.

A series of legal challenges followed, first reaching the Supreme Court in 1991, when it upheld his conviction and sentence.

Later appeals focused on Schad’s claims that he had ineffective counsel, a claim the U.S. District Court rejected in 2006. In 2010, the circuit court disagreed and ordered the lower court to hold a hearing on that claim, but the Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s ruling.

In 2011, the circuit court denied Schad’s claim and in early 2012 it rejected his request for a rehearing. Schad appealed again, citing new Supreme Court precedent, but the circuit court rejected that claim and the Supreme Court agreed in January.

But the circuit court later decided to treat Schad’s January 2013 appeal as a request to reconsider its 2012 decision, and it ordered the case back to district court for a hearing.

As Schad continued his appeals, however, the state set an execution date of March 6. On March 4, the circuit court ordered a stay of execution.

Arizona went back to the Supreme Court, which refused at the time to overturn the stay of execution. But in its decision Monday, the high court reversed the circuit court and vacated the stay, saying the circuit court had “abused its discretion when it neglected to issue its mandate.”

Grisham said Monday that the state would be filing a motion Monday for a warrant of execution in the case.