A notorious criminal in Washington state will no longer face execution after killing a Monroe prison guard.
Byron Scherf had a long history of rape and kidnapping. He was already serving a life sentence for abducting and raping a Spokane real estate agent when he strangled Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl inside the chapel at the Monroe Prison.
Scherf confessed to the 2011 murder of Biendl and asked prosecutors for the death penalty, saying he deserved to die for his crime. A jury agreed and Scherf was given the death penalty in 2013.
But in October 2018, Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty violates its Constitution.
Judge George Appel had no choice but to vacate Scherf's death sentence and reinstate his original sentence of life without parole.
State Senator Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley, is introducing Senate Bill 5364 that would allow for the death penalty in cases where an inmate kills while incarcerated. He said Scherf is essentially getting a reduced sentence after killing Biendl.
"I think typically people understand in our justice system, if you do something minor you have a minor consequence. If you do something serious, you have a serious consequence," Wagoner said. "Now we're going to the top of the pyramid and saying there is no consequence at all. I think that's upside down logic. It doesn't serve victims or their families very well."
Wagoner conceded his bill is not likely to get passed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. It hasn't even gotten a hearing. But he is encouraging supporters to call their local legislators and Governor Inslee to voice their approval.