Monroe prison guard killer moved to Walla Walla's death row

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Byron Scherf was sentenced to death for killing a corrections officer at the Washington State Reformatory, but he will face the same security measures as the other eight death row inmates at the state penitentiary at Walla Walla, a Department of Corrections spokesman said.

Scherf is confined to the intensive management unit - the highest security. Inmates generally are restricted to their cells 23 hours a day. They are kept in restraints any time they are in the presence of corrections officers, said department spokesman Chad Lewis.

Scherf, 54, was sentenced Wednesday and moved to Walla Walla Thursday for what could be a long stay, The Daily Herald reported Friday.

Although he confessed to strangling Jayme Biendl with an amplifier cord in January 2011 in the prison chapel and he once said he expected to be executed, Scherf now plans to exercise his appeal rights.

The last man executed at the Penitentiary was Cal Brown in 2010. He was on death row for 17 years before he was given a lethal injection for the 1991 rape and torture-murder of a woman at a Sea-Tac motel.

Under state law, all death penalty cases require a state Supreme Court review of the conviction and sentence. Justices are mandated to consider whether there is sufficient evidence to justify capital punishment and whether the sentence is disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases. They also must determine if jurors based their decision on passion or prejudice.

Scherf also can appeal in state and federal courts.

Appellate lawyers likely will attack Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe's decision to seek the death penalty before Scherf's defense team was able to provide the prosecution with mitigation material in support of leniency. Before Scherf's trial began, the defense tried to block the prosecution from seeking the death penalty for that reason.

After Wednesday's verdict, Biendl's sister, Lisa Hamm, said she plans to count the days until Scherf is dead. She acknowledged, however, that the appeals process could take years, and Scherf may die from natural causes in the meantime.