Man who killed Monroe prison guard removed from death row

Byron Scherf, who murdered Jayme Biendl, is one of eight men who were on death row in Walla Walla.

Byron Scherf (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Byron Scherf (Washington State Department of Corrections)

By Nicholas K. Geranios / Associated Press

SPOKANE — The state of Washington has executed 78 people since 1904, the last in 2010. The state Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the death penalty violates Washington’s Constitution because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.

The justices ordered that people currently on death row have their sentences converted to life in prison.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee had already placed a moratorium on executions in 2014.

There are currently eight men on death row at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. Five are white and three — Jonathan Gentry, Cecil Davis and Allen Gregory — are black.

They are:

Byron Eugene Scherf, for the murder of a correctional officer on January 29, 2011, inside the state prison at Monroe. On death row for six years.

• Dayva Michael Cross, for stabbing his wife and two teenage stepdaughters to death on March 6, 1999, in King County. He has been on death row for 18 years.

• Cecil Emile Davis, for rape and murder by asphyxiation and suffocation of an elderly woman while burglarizing her home on January 25, 1997, in Pierce County. On death row for 21 years.

• Clark Richard Elmore, for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s teenage daughter on April 17, 1995, in Whatcom County. On death row for 24 years.

• Jonathan Lee Gentry, for the murder by bludgeoning of a 12-year-old female on June 13, 1988, in Bremerton. On death row for 28 years.

• Allen Eugene Gregory, for rape and murder of a 43-year-old woman on July 26, 1996, in Pierce County. On death row for seven years. Thursday’s Supreme Court decision abolishing the death penalty involved his case.

• Conner Michael Schierman, for the murders of a mother, her two young children, and the woman’s sister on July 16, 2006, in King County. On death row for nine years.

Robert Lee Yates, Jr., for the murders of two women in 1997 and 1998 in Pierce County. On death row for 17 years. Also concurrently serving 408 years for the serial murders of 13 other women, mostly in the Spokane area. Yates grew up in Oak Harbor.

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