Work begins soon to pick jury for capital murder trial

EVERETT — In a month, lawyers are expected to begin selecting a jury for the trial of an inmate accused of killing Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl.

Lawyers spent Friday ironing out details on how to seat a jury. They are scheduled to be back in front of Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel later this week to argue how the process should work to excuse potential jurors seeking reprieve.

Potential jurors are expected to be given a lengthy questionnaire that lawyers already have started to prepare.

Trial for Byron Scherf is scheduled to begin March 29. Jury selections is expected to begin on April 2.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Scherf, a convicted rapist already serving a life sentence.

He is accused of ambushing Biendl on Jan. 29, 2011 at her post in the chapel at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe.

A few days after the slaying, Scherf confessed to the killing. He told investigators that he became angry with her over something he claims she said about his wife earlier in the night.

Prosecutors allege that Scherf, 54, hid out in the chapel until Biendl was alone and then attacked her. She fought back but eventually was strangled with an amplifier cord.

Scherf was found seated outside the sanctuary after corrections officers discovered him missing during an inmate count. Biendl’s body wasn’t discovered until about two hours after she was killed.

Scherf’s prosecution is the first capital murder case in Snohomish County since Barbara Opel’s prosecution in 2003. Jurors convicted Opel of aggravated murder but sentenced her to life in prison.

James Homer Elledge was that last man put to death for a murder in Snohomish County. He was executed in 2001.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;

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