Jury deliberates death penalty for Byron Scherf

by: Lee Stoll Updated:

Snohomish County - The jury that needed only 30-minutes to convict Byron Scherf of murdering corrections officer Jayme Biendl are taking much more time to decide if he should live or die.

 Jurors began deliberating the possible death penalty sentence Tuesday morning.  They alerted the judge that they had a question at 3 p.m.  Attorneys and Scherf were brought back to the courtroom where they were told the jury was exhausted and asking to leave early for the day.  Both sides agreed to let the jury go, but Snohomish County Superior Court  Judge George Appel told the jury to continue deliberations.  They were later excused for the night without reaching a verdict.

Jurors were asked if there were any mitigating circumstances to merit leniency.  Prosecutors said there were none.

 “Maybe Mr. Scherf tried to change, but the violence escalated." said prosecutor Paul Stern.

  A life sentence means Scherf would be moved from medium to maximum security.  He’d be shackled any time he leaves his cell.  Still, Stern says he’s a threat as long as he’s alive. "We all know from our own lives, when horrible events happen, you go on high alert, how long can you stay there?" said Stern.

Scherf’s attorney argued he should not be put to death out of fear.

 "For the prosecutor to imply that Byron should be put to death because they might screw up?  It's offensive." said Karen Halverson.

 Jurors will continue their deliberations Wednesday morning at 9..