Washington state inmate sentenced to death for killing prison guard

May 15, 2013 at 5:41 PM
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EVERETT, Wash., May 15 (UPI) -- A judge in Everett, Wash., Wednesday went along with a jury's recommendation and sentenced an inmate to death for killing a prison guard.

Jurors who convicted Byron Scherf of first-degree aggravated murder last week in the slaying of Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl, 34, recommended the death penalty after hearing from the victim's family, KIRO-TV, Seattle, reported.

Scherf, 54, was serving a life sentence for rape and other crimes against women when he strangled Biendl with a cord inside the prison chapel's sanctuary in 2011.

Biendl's father, James Hamm, told the jury "the worst part is the feeling of loss just doesn't seem to go away."

Hamm said he didn't expect Scherf to get the death penalty.

"It's so hard for someone to say, 'I'd like to see you die. I'd like to put somebody to death,'" Hamm said. "It's just immorally, it's hard to do. But I was hoping."

Biendl's sister, Lisa Hamm, said she'll be keeping track until Scherf is executed.

"I've been waiting 837 days, exactly, to hear those words that he's got the death penalty," she said. "And I'm going to continue to count, until he's finally dead."

In arguing to spare their client's life, Scherf's attorneys noted that before the killing, he earned a high school diploma and enrolled in therapy.

"It is obvious that Byron is a damaged, broken man. But he is not beyond redemption. He is not evil," said Karen Halverson, Scherf's attorney.

But the jury decided there was no mitigating reasons.

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