How much of Scherf tapes to use in trial debated

EVERETT — Lawyers were in court Wednesday arguing over whether jurors should be allowed to hear complete police interviews with the inmate accused of killing Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl in 2011.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel already had ruled that Byron Scherf’s video-recorded interviews are admissible. The judge concluded that the inmate was properly advised of his rights and spoke to detectives voluntarily.

Lawyers on Wednesday argued over whether all of what Scherf told detectives should be heard at trial.

Appel agreed that portions of the interview transcripts and video recordings shouldn’t be allowed in, including statements that describe Scherf’s past crimes. Jurors will be told that Scherf was serving a life sentence, but the details of his criminal history won’t be admissible during the trial. If he’s convicted, jurors likely will hear the details during the penalty phase.

In many of instances, prosecutors had agreed to the omissions. The judge, however, also sided with prosecutors in their fight to allow jurors to hear Scherf explain why he agreed to talk to police, and the statements, prosecutors say, help prove that Biendl’s killing was premeditated.

The inmate faces the death penalty if he’s convicted. Trial is scheduled to begin at the end of March.

Lawyers are expected to be back in court next month to argue whether the defendant can receive a fair trial in Snohomish County or whether a change of venue is warranted.

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