It’s been almost two months since Granite Falls resident and Washington State corrections officer Jayme Biendl was found strangled to death inside the Monroe Corrections Facility Chapel where she worked.
Inmate Byron Scherf was charged with the slaying after he allegedly killed Biendl with an amplifier cord.
On Wednesday March 11, Scherf, 52, was in court after being charged with aggravated murder. Scherf listened as his attorney Karen Halvorsen, entered a not guilty plea on Scherf’s behalf.
Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe also announced on Wednesday that they will be seeking the death penalty, a decision that was made after weeks of investigation, research and meetings with Biendl’s family.
“Jayme’s family believe that the death penalty should be sought. I have taken their wishes into account,” Roe said in a statement. “At the time of the murder the defendant was already serving a life sentence. I have taken that into account as well. I have read thousands of pages of records, evaluations, letters and reports from the defendant’s years in prison. Some of that information was mitigating and some was not. I have taken that information into account as well.”
Roe also expressed that as a representative of the people, he would like to give the jury the option of seeking the death penalty if they find enough evidence to convict Scherf of the crime he is being charged with.
“I have decided to seek the death penalty if he (Scherf) is convicted of the murder of Jayme Biendl,” Roe stated. “I believe that this community, represented by the people standing behind me, and ultimately by the jurors who hear the facts of this case, should have the opportunity of imposing the ultimate punishment if they see fit. This decision gives them that opportunity.”
County Executive Aaron Reardon was one of “the people standing behind” Roe during his announcement.
“This morning I stood alongside Snohomish County Prosecutor, Mark Roe as he announced his decision to pursue the Death Penalty for the murder of Washington State Department of Corrections Officer, Jayme Biendl,” Reardon said. “I fully support the decision of the Prosecutor and will make certain that the necessary financial resources are available to prosecute this case to the full extent of the law. I commend the Prosecutor on a thorough review and evaluation of the requisite materials in this case. And, I support his decision to pursue the penalty of death for the murder of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl.”
Scherf’s trial is scheduled to begin on May 6, however, it is likely that the defense will ask for time stating that they had not received some materials from prosecutors.
Scherf was serving a life sentence at the time of Biendl’s death.