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May 30, 2014

Bench files for new competency hearing

DUNCAN — Attorneys for Miles Sterling Bench have applied for a second competency hearingeven though Bench was found competent to stand trial a little more than a month earlier.

Bench, 23, of Velma, is charged with first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. Henry died June 10, 2012, in the Velma convenience store Teepee Totem. Bench’s second competency hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. June 6 in Stephens County District Court with District Judge Joe Enos presiding.

Enos, a jury of six and two alternatives spent three days in April listening to testimony regarding Bench’s competency or lack there of. The competency hearing began April 15 after a lengthy jury selection process the same day.

By the end of April 17, the jury had rendered a decision, deeming Bench as competent to stand trial. At that time, Enos scheduled the first-degree murder trial to begin the following week.

However, attorneys from the defense and the prosecution requested a continuance to begin preparing their cases. Bench’s trial was moved to the August docket, where it had been moved previously. Bench was initially slated to go to trial in April, but the competency hearing caused the trial date to move.

During the first competency hearing, jurors listened to testimony from two psychologists with differing opinions.

Dr. Jeanne Russell of Tulsa, testified Bench’s time at the Stephens County Jail had caused him to not be competent because he was unable to consult and rationally assist his attorneys in the preparation of his case. Dr. Peter Rausch disagreed, saying “I think he is competent.”

Throughout the initial competency hearing, various individuals testified to Bench being placed on suicide watch for refusing to eat. Bench lost about 100 pounds during his time in prison as a result.

Bench remains in the custody of the Stephens County Jail. At this time, he is still slated for the August trail docket.

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