The Duncan Banner
A judge entered a not guilty plea for Miles Sterling Bench on Thursday and tentatively set his murder trial for January, despite Bench’s complaints that he is not satisfied with his public defense attorneys.
Bench, 22, interrupted Stephens County District Court Judge Joe Enos several times during a brief arraignment on a first-degree murder charge in the June 6, 2012 death of 16-year-old Braylee Rae Henry of Velma.
Prosecutors notified the court Wednesday they are seeking the death penalty.
Bench is being represented by Gary Henry, a court-appointed attorney with the Capital Division of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, and Enos was addressing him when Bench interrupted.
“I wish to speak,” Bench said. “Can I speak? I do not feel confident in who is representing me.”
Enos reminded Bench that he asked the court to appoint counsel, the court did that and now recognizes Henry as his lawyer. Henry has represented several defendants facing the possibility of the death sentence in Oklahoma.
Enos tried again to talk directly to Gary Henry, but Bench interrupted again, saying he had been told the judge in the case was Jerry Herberger. He is a special district judge in Stephens County who handled some preliminary proceedings in the case.
“We’re not ready to enter a plea now,” Bench said.
Enos then entered a not guilty plea on his own and set the trial for the Jan. 13, 2014 jury trial docket.
Bench is accused of killing Braylee Henry at the Tee Pee Totem convenience store in Velma where he worked as a clerk. He was arrested hours after authorities found a pool of blood in a back room of the store and discovered Braylee Henry’s body in a pasture in rural Stephens County.
Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks, who was in the courtroom during the hearing, declined to comment after the hearing.