Scherf trial may require 1,000 potential jurors

EVERETT — At least 1,000 people may be called next year as potential jurors in the death penalty trial of an inmate accused of killing Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl in 2011.

Lawyers and Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel on Friday began grappling with the logistics of assembling that many people together. There isn’t a courtroom large enough to accommodate 1,000 people.

Appel had suggested that the initial phase began at the Comcast Arena in downtown Everett.

Lawyers for Byron Scherf objected to using the arena, noting that a large, public memorial service for Biendl was held there. They suggested the Everett Station.

Prosecutors, however, argued against leaving the courthouse. Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Paul Stern said he has concerns that there may be a greater potential for jurors to see Scherf in shackles at a location such as Comcast Arena. There are numerous entrances and elevated seats there, Stern noted.

Stern said a “silly” standard was set by the state Supreme Court when its reversed the death penalty sentence for a man who killed a Snohomish County sheriff’s sergeant and a blind man in 1994. The sentence was thrown out because jurors saw the defendant’s leg restraints and handcuffs.

No decision was made on Scherf’s trail during Friday’s brief hearing, which was attended by members of Biendl’s family.

Trial remains scheduled for March 29, 2013 — more than two years after Biendl, 34, was found dead at her post in the chapel at the Washington State Reformatory.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463; hefley@heraldnet.com.

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