PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated a death sentence for an Arizona man who was convicted of killing a man 35 years ago, clearing the way for the state to press ahead with execution plans.
The justices' action on Monday is the court's latest skirmish with the federal appeals court in San Francisco over delays in Arizona's efforts to execute Edward Schad for his conviction in the 1978 death of 74-year-old Lorimer "Leroy" Grove of Bisbee, Ariz.
The Supreme Court said in its unsigned opinion that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals must step away from Schad's case and allow the state to proceed. The high court had once before thrown out a 9th Circuit ruling in Schad's favor.
Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General's Office, said lawyers for the state were expected to file a request for an execution warrant for Schad in the coming days.
Schad's execution would be Arizona's 34th since 1992.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Lawyers for Schad had argued Mortensen's death was an accident that occurred during consensual sex. Schad was eventually paroled in the Utah case.