The Duncan Banner

Local News

September 6, 2013

Judge sets trial date for Bench

Bench requests new attorney

DUNCAN — 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 a few 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.

Bench said he was not confident in his defense attorneys, who were appointed by the court, but Enos set the trial anyway for the Jan. 13, 2014 trial docket. That date could be moved back.

Prosecutors notified the court Wednesday they are seeking the death penalty, saying the murder was especially heinous, atrocious and cruel because Bench beat Braylee Henry with his fists and “stomped her to the point of death.”

Bench allegedly killed her at the Tee Pee Totem convenience store where he worked as a clerk. She had gone there to buy some soda and candy.

Bench is being represented by Gary Henry and Bobby Lewis, court-appointed attorneys with the Capital Division of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System. Enos began the hearing by asking Gary Henry if he had seen the paperwork formally seeking the death penalty.

Gary Henry said he found out about the filing Wednesday night, reviewed it and gave a copy to Bench before the hearing. Enos started to speak again but Bench interrupted,

“I wish to speak,” said Bench, who was sitting in handcuffs at the far end of the defense attorney’s table. “Can I speak?”

“I do not feel confident in who is representing me,” he said.

Enos reminded Bench that he asked the court to appoint counsel, the court did so and it now recognizes Henry as his lawyer.

Henry has represented several defendants facing a possible death sentence in Oklahoma. He and Lewis handle death-penalty cases for the state’s Indigent Defense System in 75 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.

But Bench spoke out again, saying he had been told the judge in the case was Jerry Herberger and he had been trying to get a letter to him. Herberger 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 January 2014 jury trial docket. But he said that date could be pushed back to April because Gary Henry might have a scheduling conflict.

Gary Henry, when asked afterwards about Bench seeking a different lawyer, noted what Enos had told Bench.

“The court told him he asked someone to defend him. That’s us,” he said. “He can hire someone.”

To get court-appointed counsel, Bench filled out paperwork to show he could not afford a private attorney and did not have relatives or friends who could help him do so. Bench could always demand that he be able to defend himself, although courts usually frown on such requests.

Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks, who was in the courtroom during Thursday’s hearing, declined to comment afterwards.

Hicks left the courtroom with Braylee Henry’s mother, Renee Henson, escorting her into his office along with some others who had been sitting with her.

Bench was arrested hours after authorities first found a pool of blood in a back room of the Velma convenience store and then discovered Braylee Henry’s body in a pasture near the rural Stephens County home of Bench’s grandparents.

He was arrested near Weatherford in Custer County while driving Braylee Henry’s car — which had an OnStar device that authorities used to track down the vehicle.

In the document Hicks filed Wednesday, he said the death penalty was justified because of the heinous nature of the crime.

“Braylee Rae Henry did consciously suffer great physical pain and mental anguish as she lingered before her death,” the document said.

It also said it was probable that Bench would commit further acts of violence and was a continuing threat to society.

Hicks listed several claims to justify that contention, alleging Bench:

• stood in a window during Labor Day weekend in Illinois in 2005, exposing himself and performing a sex act. That occurred on more than one occasion, the document says.

• while attending high school in Wilmington, Ill., was known to touch female students and was reprimanded several times for inappropriate behavior.

• when in high school in Ada, Okla., touched fellow classmates in a “lewd and lascivious” manner and once required a female student to sit in his lap, refusing to let her get up.

• exhibited similar behavior while a student at Davis High School in Davis, Okla.

• was arrested in July 2008 for domestic assault and battery for allegedly hitting his stepfather, who needed stitches for an eye wound.

• was AWOL from the Navy in January 2011 and was later arrested for possessing a stolen vehicle.

• was discharged from the military for continued failure to follow rules and be truthful with commanding officers.

• was arrested for shoplifting in Ada in November 2011.

Text Only
Local News
  • 7-25 Marlow Gas.jpg Church ministry to host $1-per-gallon gas event on Saturday

    Hop & Sack Grocery should be hopping on Saturday morning.
       The annual gas buydown project, a ministry of Marlow’s First Baptist Church, will begin at 8 a.m. and last until noon on Saturday.
     The church will buy down the price of gas so customers will pay only $1 per gallon for up to 20 gallons.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-25 Chance Anderson.jpg Homegrown Marlow singer returns for free concert

        Marlow native Chance Anderson brought his  band to  Marlow’s downtown stage Thursday evening for the second of three community concerts of the summer.
     Free hot dogs and drinks were served to about 150 people who gathered for the music.
        Jason McPherson, city administrator, said he was proud of the turnout, especially with the raging heat.

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Red Cross notes importance of local participation

    July 25, 2014

  • 7-25 National Day of the Cowboy 0013.jpg National Day of the Cowboy kicks off Saturday

    The annual National Day of the Cowboy will kick off at 10 a.m. Saturday at The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.
    The theme is centered around Native American culture and will be showcased through a variety of different activites, specifically the ongoing Allan Houser Exhibition.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Temperature hits 101

    The temperature hit 101 in Duncan on Thursday and stayed there for about two hours before cooling down to 99 at 6:35 p.m., the National Weather Service reported.
    More hot weather is in the forecast.

    July 24, 2014

  • 7-24 Rotary Mike Nelson 0087.jpg Nelson discusses Duncan’s water supply during Rotary meeting

    Duncan Vice Mayor Mike Nelson doesn’t think Duncan residents need to worry about the city’s water supply.
    Despite Stage 3 water rationing, which limits outdoor watering to midnight to 9 a.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, Nelson said the forethought of Duncan’s forefathers, who were also Duncan Rotary members, have created a backup system for the city.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-24 Douglass Pool Update 0081.jpg What’s dug up at cemetery goes down at spray pad project

       Dana Stanley knew just where to go to get fill dirt for the Douglass Park spray pad project -- the local cemetery.
       The city is building a splash pad on top of what used to be Douglass Pool, but  before that happens  a fairly large hole has to be filled.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Traffic stop leads to drug arrest for Duncan man

    Bail was set at $250,000 Wednesday for a Duncan man who was allegedly found to have two bags of methamphetamine and two bags of marijuana in his home.
    Duncan Police Officer Suzannahe Weir said she stopped Steven Fontinott, 62,  for a traffic violation on Saturday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Man drives drunk, rolls truck in the process

    A felony warrant was issued for a Marlow man who was allegedly found to have been driving drunkenly following a rollover accident on Nabor Road.
    Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Darin Carman said William Waller, 33, was pinned under the steering wheel of his truck and smelled of alcohol.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hard year for peaches doesn't dampen summer tradition

    A rusting, silver-colored water tower tells visitors to this rural town between Muskogee and Tulsa that they've come to the “Peach Capitol of Oklahoma.”
    Residents of Stratford, the state’s other self-proclaimed peach capital, might beg to differ. Even so, Porter is known for its peaches, and every year thousands of people flood this town of about 600 residents to taste and celebrate the local crop during the three-day Peach Festival.

    July 24, 2014