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Byron Scherf's alleged confession can be released, state Supreme Court rules

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By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer
EVERETT -- Byron Scherf on Tuesday lost his bid to prevent prosecutors from releasing documents detailing his alleged confession to strangling a Monroe corrections officer.
The state Supreme Court denied Scherf's motion to stay a Snohomish County judge's decision allowing prosecutors to release the documents under public disclosure.
Scherf's lawyers last month asked Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne to order prosecutors to seal roughly 325 pages of police reports, transcripts and other records related to the investigation. The Herald sought the documents after Scherf was charged in March.
Scherf's lawyers argued that the release of the documents would prevent Scherf from receiving a fair trial.
Wynne ruled that the documents are public records and there are no legal reasons to withhold them.
Scherf's attorneys appealed Wynne's ruling with the state Supreme Court and asked for an emergency stay.
In a written decision on Tuesday, a commissioner concluded that Scherf's attorneys failed to make their case.
"Mr. Scherf's motion for an emergency stay makes no attempt to demonstrate the presence of a debatable issue," the ruling said.
Scherf provides "no argument on the point, nor any record by which to test his claim" that his fair-trial rights would be compromised, the commissioner wrote.
Scherf, 52, is charged with aggravated murder and could face the death penalty for the Jan. 29 strangling death of Jayme Biendl in the chapel at the Washington State Reformatory. The serial rapist already was serving a life sentence when Biendl was killed.
Scherf's lawyers did not object to the earlier release of about 1,600 pages of police reports about the case. Those documents described how Scherf calmly explained to corrections officers who found him alone in the chapel that he'd fallen asleep, and that Biendl must have missed him when she left for home. He also reportedly was trying to clean his fingernails minutes after her death.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
Story tags » MonroePrisonProsecutionHomicide

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