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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : latest news : latest news June 28, 2016

10/4/2013 7:50:00 AM
Clemency Board rejects Schad request to commute death sentence

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Without dissent, the state Board of Executive Clemency voted Wednesday to reject a request by Edward Schad to commute his death sentence.

The 3-0 vote by the panel came after federal public defender Kelley Henry said the board refused to consider evidence of his positive prison behavior since being convicted of the 1978 death of Bisbee resident Lorimer Grove whose body was found near Prescott.

"They required him to prove absolutely his innocence,' she said.

Henry had no better luck with a separate plea for the board to grant Schad at least a temporary reprieve -- essentially a stay of execution -- to give him a chance to pursue his claim that top aides to Gov. Jan Brewer improperly and illegally have sought to influence the panel and pressure members against recommending clemency in high-profile cases. Only Jack LaSota voted to grant that delay

Henry is now asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in that case, as Schad has exhausted all of his other legal appeals.

But Henry said the appellate judges will not even schedule a hearing until U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver issues a formal ruling on her refusal late Tuesday to block today's clemency board hearing. And that is not supposed to happen until Friday.

Time is running out: Absent some action by that panel -- or the U.S. Supreme Court -- Schad is scheduled to be executed this coming Wednesday.

Schad's claim is based on statements by former board members that Scott Smith, at the time the governor's deputy chief of staff, told them Brewer was unhappy they had sent her certain recommendations for clemency. That includes one man whose murder conviction is now being questioned and a second sentenced to a mandatory 90 years in prison for having 10 separate child pornography items on his computer.

The board's vote is crucial: Only if the board recommends clemency does that force the governor to make a decision. A refusal to grant clemency means she has nothing to decide.

The former board members said they were denied reappointment because of their votes.

In her preliminary ruling, Silver said Henry produced no evidence that the three active members of the five-member board had been pressured by Smith, now Brewer's chief of staff, or anyone else.

But Henry contends that the current board members know the fate of their predecessors and can't help but be influenced if they hope to get new five-year terms.

Claims of a poisoned board also are being pursued by Robert Glen Jones Jr., scheduled to be executed later this month.

He was convicted in the 1996 deaths of two people during a robbery at the Moon Smoke Shop in Tucson and four other murders in another murder two weeks later at the Firefighters Union Hall. His clemency hearing would be a week before the execution.

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