by: Lee Stoll Updated:
EVERETT, Wash. - A jury took fewer than 30 minutes to convict Byron Scherf of first-degree murder in the death of corrections officer Jayme Biendl.
Scherf, who confessed to strangling Biendl in 2011, hoped the jury would convict him of the lesser included crime of second-degree murder.
The defense argued Scherf snapped in a fit of anger and didn’t plan to kill Biendl until he’d already wrapped a microphone cord around her neck.
But prosecutors proved Scherf planned the murder. They played a confession video in which Scherf admitted he knew he was going to kill Biendl several minutes before he attacked her in the facility chapel.
"He was locked, he was loaded, he was ready, he had the design, he was going to kill her,” said prosecutor Paul Stern.
Biendl’s friends, family and co-workers held each other as the verdict was read—knowing the conviction brings Scherf one step closer to the death penalty.
"The grief is just palpable,” said Snohomish County pProsecutor Mark Roe. Roe, who has handled three death penalty cases, says the same jury will be back in court on Monday for more testimony and evidence from both sides.
In the end, they will be asked one question—whether or not Scherf deserves any leniency.
“All 12 of them have to agree that (he does not) for a death penalty to be imposed,” Roe said.
The sentencing hearing is expected to last several days.