FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona on Wednesday executed the oldest person on its death row, nearly 35 years after he was charged with murdering a man during a robbery and dumping his body along a highway.
The execution of 71-year-old Edward Harold Schad Jr. came about two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeals.
At about 10 a.m., the warden at the state prison in Florence read Schad's execution warrant and asked him if he had anything to say.
Schad responded: "Well, after 34 years, I'm free to fly away home. Thank you, warden. Those are my last words."
He lay quietly and looked at the ceiling as he was given a lethal dose of pentobarbital through IV needles in both arms. He then took a long, deep breath and exhaled. He was pronounced dead at 10:12 a.m.
His pastor, the Rev. Ronald Koplitz, said Schad's final statement likely was a reference to "I'll Fly Away," a Gospel song he gave Schad a couple of weeks ago.
Koplitz met Schad when the Lutheran minister first arrived at the Florence prison in 1981 and served as the prison Chaplin. Koplitz said he kept in touch with him after that, and gave him last rites just before the execution and served as a witness. "He was not your typical inmate," Koplitz said.
"He was a good guy. Whether he did the murder or not, I don't know," Koplitz said afterward. "He always told me he didn't, like he told everybody else."
Schad was sentenced to death for killing Lorimer "Leroy" Grove, whose body was found Aug. 9, 1978, in underbrush off the shoulder of U.S. 89 south of Prescott. A sash-like cord used to strangle Grove was still knotted around his neck.
Schad was arrested several weeks later in Utah while driving Grove's Cadillac. Authorities say he had driven the car across the country, used Grove's credit cards and forged a check from the Bisbee man's bank account.
At the time, Schad was on parole for second-degree murder in the 1968 accidental strangulation death of a male sex partner in Utah.
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