By Larry Simoneaux
The good news is that Byron Scherf is finally on trial for the murder of corrections officer Jayme Biendl.
The bad news is that it took longer than two years and more than $365, 000 (Note: And the meter’s still running) to get him there.
This, after he — according to reports in this newspaper: (1) “Wrote detectives and prosecutors, saying he wanted to plead guilty;” (2) “Urged authorities to seek the death penalty;” and (3) “Wrote that Biendl’s family deserved swift justice.”
Minor aside: Amen to that last.
Other things that have been reported include the fact that “Scherf confessed to killing Biendl a few days after she was found with an amplifier cord wrapped around her neck. He detailed how he waited for other inmates to leave the chapel and ambushed Biendl as she locked up her post for the night … He told detectives that Biendl fought him and tried to call for help, but he ripped the radio from her.”
Too, all of this occurred while he was already serving a life sentence for the rape and assault of a Spokane real estate agent — which was after his previous run-ins with the law which also included violence against women.
The trial is expected to last weeks. And, one might add, the appeals will likely run for years after that.
During the trial, the defense is apparently going to argue against Mr. Scherf having to face the death penalty because his rights were violated more than two years ago “by the way Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe reached his decision to seek the death penalty.”
Do, please, cry me a river.
I’ve written before that there are times when I lean away from having the death penalty imposed. This is not due to any belief that the death penalty is either barbaric or immoral. Nor is it because I think that the death penalty “lowers” society to the same level as the accused.
Rather, and as I said several years ago, my second thoughts regarding the death penalty are usually because of the seemingly endless appeals process, the costs involved, and the prolonged pain for the victim’s family. It often makes me wonder if our justice system is too often long on “system” and short on “justice.”
That said, I believe there are instances wherein the death penalty is precisely what’s called for. In the case of Byron Scherf, such a sentence is a proper, necessary, and long overdue penalty.
This individual killed a young woman — a corrections officer charged with serving and protecting the community (See: us) — who was doing nothing more than carrying out her prescribed duties.
Lord knows why Mr. Scherf allegedly killed her and, to be honest, I don’t really care. Most of his life has been spent behind bars for brutalizing others — women, particularly. One who was reportedly only 16 years old. Then, while serving this sentence, he goes on to kill a human being.
I’m sorry, am I missing anything here? Do we really want to take the chance that this won’t happen again? Do we really want to, at some time in the future, be explaining to the family of another possible victim that, “Well, yes, you’re right. We knew that he’d murdered before while in prison, but we never thought it would or could happen again.”
To review the bidding on Mr. Scherf and to restate things that I’ve written before:
It’s appropriate because he wantonly took a life. It’s appropriate because there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he committed the crime. It’s appropriate because it would be an insult to Officer Biendl’s family — and to the citizens of this state — to have some part of their taxes used for the care and feeding of this individual.
Further, and to preclude another argument, I don’t regard the death penalty as a deterrent. Never have. Never will. Some people are mentally wired so differently from the rest of us that I don’t believe such considerations ever cross their twisted minds. They will do what they will do regardless of the consequences.
Sending Mr. Scherf on his way to perdition, however, is one way of ensuring that no future harm can come to anyone at his hands, and it’s also a fitting societal retribution (not revenge) for a particularly heinous crime.
My hope is that Mr. Scherf spends eternity in hell.
And the sooner we send him there, the better.
There are far better uses for the oxygen he’d otherwise consume.
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org