Inmate who killed guard sentenced to death

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photoByron Scherf

EVERETT — A Washington state judge has sentenced an inmate to death for killing a state corrections officer in a prison chapel two years ago.

Byron Scherf, 54, is a convicted rapist 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 January 2011.

A Snohomish County Superior Court jury took about an hour to convict him of aggravated murder last Thursday, and the same jury on Wednesday morning 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 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.