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Suspect in Murder of Velma Teen Found Competent to Stand Trial

21-Apr-2014

Although defense attorneys argued that their client's mental condition had deteriorated while awaiting trial on murder charges, a Stephens County jury disagreed. The jury found that Miles Sterling Bench, 23, is mentally competent to stand trial for the 2012 murder of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma, Oklahoma.

Attorneys with the Capital Trial Division of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System also attempted to have the competency hearing declared a mistrial after they failed to receive the activity logs pertaining to Bench's stay in the Stephens County Jail as requested. However, the judge overruled their request, saying the expedited schedule on which the case is proceeding is one to which the defense team agreed.

Prosecutors say that Bench demonstrated his competency in September when he attempted to escape from jail. They showed the court a video of Bench requesting that his restraints be loosened, complaining that they were too tight, and then slowly managing to work his way free. After he slipped out of his restraints, he went into a nearby room and changed clothes from his orange jumpsuit into a green and white uniform worn by jail trustees. 

Additionally, a psychiatrist testifying for the state said that Bench was mentally competent to stand trial; however, a psychiatrist testifying for the defense argued that Bench is not competent and that his September escape attempt has no bearing on his present mental health. She said that she assessed the defendant in February, and that his mental competency has deteriorated significantly since he was first incarcerated in June 2012.

Bench was charged with first degree murder in 2012 after the beating death of a teenager who was buying soft drinks at the convenience store where he worked. On June 6, 2012, a customer entering the Tee Pee Totem convenience store called police to report that there was no clerk in the store. Police arrived to find the store unattended and a large puddle of blood in a back room. While they were investigating the empty store, they received another call that a 16-year-old girl was missing after leaving home to get drinks at a convenience store. They tracked the victim's OnStar-enabled car and found Bench, with blood on his shirt, driving Braylee Henry's car. He allegedly told police, "I think I (expletive) up. I think I killed somebody earlier tonight." 

Henry's body was discovered by K-9 units in a pasture on a 160-acre plot of land owned by Bench's grandparents.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case.



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