EVERETT – A Snohomish County Superior Court judge has sentenced an inmate to death for killing a state corrections officer in a prison chapel two years ago.
Byron Scherf is a convicted rapist from Spokane who already was serving life in prison when he attacked officer Jayme Biendl and strangled her with an amplifier cord at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe in January 2011.
A jury took about an hour to convict him of aggravated murder last Thursday, and the same jury early Wednesday recommended the death penalty. The judge formally imposed the sentence Wednesday afternoon.
“My thoughts are with the Biendl family and with those jurors who had to listen and make a difficult decision,” said deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler. “I am proud of our system of justice.”
Scherf, 54, showed no reaction. He was placed in handcuffs as jurors were led from the courtroom, the Daily Herald of Everett reported.
Jurors declined to speak publicly about their verdict.
Scherf never testified during the trial and offered no statement in advance of his sentencing. His lawyers didn’t dispute that he strangled Biendl but suggested he didn’t plan to kill her.
The jury saw Scherf’s video confession and heard forensic testimony about how Biendl was strangled. Scherf said he first planned to ambush and beat up Biendl over something she said to him, but he refused to say what that was.
In the confession, Scherf detailed how he waited for other inmates to leave the chapel and ambushed Biendl as she locked up her post for the night. He told detectives that Biendl fought him and tried to call for help, but he ripped the radio from her. He said he blacked out during her death.
An investigation led to the firing of three corrections officers at the prison.