In its case against Miles Sterling Bench, the State of Oklahoma presented eight witnesses and 10 items of evidence.
The preliminary hearing for Bench, 21, took place Tuesday. Bench is facing a First Degree Murder with Deliberate Intent charge for the death of 16-year-old Velma girl Braylee Henry. Henry was murdered June 6 in Velma, and Bench was arrested June 7 in Custer County. Bail was denied for Bench in June, and he has remained in custody since his arrest.
At the end of Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Special District Judge Jerry Herberger bound Bench over for a Nov. 29 arraignment. The state was represented by District Attorney Jason Hicks and Assistant District Attorney Leah Edwards, while the defense counsel included Gary Henry and Bobby Lewis.
The majority of the state evidence entries were photos relating to the night of the murder. Among these entries were photos of Braylee’s vehicle, a tag to her vehicle, the store Teepee Totem (which is where Braylee was allegedly murdered), and a pool of blood discovered at Teepee Totem.
Some of the evidence entries pertaining to Bench himself included photos of Bench’s face, his hands, the shorts he was wearing, and his lower calf and shoe. State witness Kendell Brown, who had been a detention officer for the Custer County Sheriff’s Department at the time of Bench’s arrest, explained the importance of some of these photos.
Brown said the photo of Bench hands showed swelling. Brown and fellow witness Carver County Sheriff Deputy Quinton Short said Bench complained about his hands hurting, stating one of his hands might have a bone chip.
Brown also touched on the photo of the shorts, and the lower calf and shoe. Brown said both of these had stains of a reddish-brown substance.
Another item the state submitted as state’s evidence was a CD, which contained a audio recording of Bench being booked into the Custer County Jail. Brown said he recorded the moment with his cell phone following some statements Bench allegedly made.
“He said he made a mistake and he might have killed someone,” Brown said.
Short said Bench made similar statements when he Short arrested him.
“He said he may have f***ed up; he may have killed someone,” Short said.
When Short was on the stand, he reviewed the photos of Braylee’s car and car tag, which he identified as being the vehicle Bench was driving when he pulled him over in Custer County.
Short said the vehicle had a large stain in the backseat, which was of interest to him. An Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation photo of the stain appeared as a piece of state’s evidence, which Short was asked to review.
“There was a large amount of what appeared to be blood in the backseat of the vehicle,” Short said.
Although Braylee’s vehicle was reported stolen and the car’s OnStar was being tracked, Short said he pulled the vehicle over because it was moving more than 10 miles over the speed limit.
As a state witness, Short was asked to identify the driver of the vehicle. Short pointed to the defendant table and stated he was wearing an orange shirt. Bench, who was the only person wearing orange a the table, was in a jail-issued orange jumpsuit.
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A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.
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Two psychologists on Tuesday offered differing opinions about the mental competency of Miles Sterling Bench to stand trial for first-degree murder in the 2012 death of Braylee Henry.
Bench, dressed in a dark blue suit, sat through a second day of court proceedings that will determine if the case against him goes to trial. The state is seeking the death penalty.
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- Bench found competent, trial to start Monday