Inmate ‘watched' officer before she was killed

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

MONROE, Wash. —

An inmate who confessed to killing a corrections officer may have planned the attack for weeks. 

Byron Scherf faces the death penalty for killing Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Corrections Facility more than two years ago.  

On Thursday, Biendl’s co-workers testified that Scherf met with his wife in a communal room at the prison hours before the murder. They told the court Scherf was unusually distant and cold.

"You could tell that particular night that inmate Scherf and his wife were not having a normal visit,” said corrections officer James Palmer. 

Officers also made it clear that Scherf watched how the staff worked. 

"He watched to see what staff was working, what we were doing, when we were making our rounds," said Palmer. 

Prosecutors said Scherf, who was already serving a life sentence for rape, knew Biendl’s schedule. They said he knew when she would be alone in the chapel and out of surveillance camera sight, which was long enough to strangle her. 

Scherf’s attorneys are expected to argue that he snapped in a moment of anger — that Biendl’s murder was not planned and therefore does not deserve the death penalty, 

Officers who found her struggled to tell the court they had no chance to save her. 

"I talked to her, called her name,” said officer Michael Boe. “At one point I said, 'Don't do this to us.’" 

The trial is expected to take weeks.  

Prosecutors have 183 people on their witness list — including 10 inmates. 

There are many witnesses, friends and family who were in attendance at the trial. 

The judge has asked the jury to use a separate entrance to prevent the groups meeting in the hallway.