Clemency denied for Arizona man set for execution

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Edward Schad By Catherine Holland Edward Schad By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- The state's clemency board on Wednesday denied an inmate's plea to avoid a death sentence, just hours after a judge refused to temporarily block the hearing and next week's scheduled execution.

An attorney for Edward Schad said the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted 3-0 against his clemency request following a hearing at the state prison in Florence where he's set to be executed Oct. 9.

The decision comes after Schad's lawyers failed to convince U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver during a hearing that stretched into Tuesday night that the board can't give him a fair hearing because of interference from Gov. Jan Brewer's office.

The state's lawyers had urged Silver to deny the request to postpone the scheduled execution, arguing that current board members testified they were impartial.

Silver issued a written ruling after holding a three-hour hearing that lasted until after 7 p.m. and included testimony from three former members of the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

Silver's brief order refusing to grant a temporary restraining order said Schad's lawyers hadn't shown they're likely to prevail on their claim that Schad cannot receive a fair clemency hearing.

They reacted by filing a notice that they're appealing Silver's order to a higher court. The conviction has previously been upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court and federal courts, so if the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't grant the appeal or a separate effort to stop the execution it will take place as scheduled.

During Tuesday's hearing, three former board members testified they believed they lost their jobs because they voted for clemency in two high-profile cases, and also said Brewer's chief of staff was angry about the requests, which Brewer denied.

A fourth former member, who was appointed by Brewer last year and resigned over the summer, spoke about a partial letter he was shown that he believed was intended to warn him about voting for clemency in some cases.

Schad's lawyer, assistant federal public defender Kelley Henry, told Silver that their testimony showed that Brewer and her staff leaned on board members to influence their vote.

"I think we've made a ... case that members of the governor's staff are interfering with the clemency process," Henry said.

Henry said in an email Wednesday that the clemency board also denied a plea for a reprieve to allow time for her to pursue that case, but only one board member agreed. She cited his pristine prison record and the fact that he would still serve a life sentence in her request.

Assistant Attorney General Kelly Gillian-Gibson said Schad's lawyers hadn't shown current board members weren't impartial.

She called three current members, including chairman Brian Livingston, who all said they weren't pressured by Brewer or her staff and acted independently.

"I didn't take the job to be biased," Livingston said.

The board is charged with reviewing clemency applications, and Brewer can't act without a positive recommendation by the board. It is set to meet Wednesday at the state prison in Florence, where Schad is set to be executed if an appeals court doesn't act.

Silver seemed skeptical of Henry's arguments during the hearing, but she did order the state to search for the purported letter former board member Melvin Thomas said he was shown.

Schad, now 71, was convicted of killing 74-year-old Lorimer "Leroy" Grove of Bisbee in August 1978 but has maintained his innocence.

Grove was last seen leaving Bisbee in a Cadillac that was pulling a trailer on his way to visit his sister in Washington state. Eight days later, his body was found south of Prescott in underbrush off the shoulder of U.S. 89.

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. He was arrested in Utah about a month after the killing.

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