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September 16, 2012

Details of murder suspect come to light

DUNCAN — Prosecutors have subpoenaed public school records in the first-degree murder case of Miles Sterling Bench, who could face the death penalty if convicted of killing 16-year-old Braylee Rae Henry of Velma in June.

A Nov. 6 preliminary hearing is set for Bench, 21, and he is being represented by attorneys with the Capital Trial Division of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, according to court records. The division represents indigent defendants in cases where the state is seeking the death penalty.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with Gary L. Henry, an attorney with the division.

Bench is accused of murdering Henry at the Tee Pee Totem convenience store in Velma on the night of June 6.

Her body was found in a pasture near the rural home of Bench’s grandparents east of Velma, and Bench was arrested later that night, near Weatherford in Custer County.

Bench was a clerk at the convenience store, where Henry had gone to buy a soda.

Officers found a pool of blood in the backroom of the store and there were signs of blunt trauma to the head area, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Bench is being held without bond in the Stephens County Jail.

Sheriff Wayne McKinney said he is being segregated from the rest of the jail inmates.

Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks has declined to comment on the case, but court records show that his office has subpoenaed all school records pertaining to Bench — including grades, attendance and any disciplinary actions — from Davis Public Schools and Ada Public Schools.

The latter subpoena was served to the principal at Ada High School late last month, records show.

Records also indicate that prosecutors intend to present laboratory results from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation as evidence.

Hicks has declined to comment on a possible motive in the crime.

Henry’s mother, Renee Henson, told The Oklahoman that she did not know who Bench was or why he would harm her daughter.

KFDX-TV reported that Bench was arrested in Joliet, Ill., in 2008 for domestic battery of his stepfather, and in January 2011 he was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle.

He also had an AWOL charge from the Great Lake Naval Base at the time.

 Court records in the case shed a little light on Bench’s background.

 In an application seeking appointed counsel, Bench indicated that he was single and listed his address as a rural route location off of Highway 7 in Ratliff City and indicated that his grandmother lived there.

 A man who came to the door at that residence on Thursday said he was Bench’s grandfather but said they did not want to comment.

On the application for counsel, Miles Bench listed his monthly take-home pay at about $800 a month, or about $200 a week.

The form asked to list people who depended on his support and how he contributed to their support.

“My grandparcare of the garden, animals and clean as well as any heavy lifting,” Bench wrote.

Bench wrote that his last employment was a few years ago with the U.S. Navy and it was for about a year, but he indicated that he did not know what his salary was and did not remember when he quit.

On the night following the crime, Bench was driving Henry’s car when Custer County Sheriff’s deputies pulled him over and arrested him. Henry’s car had the OnStar program, which allowed law enforcement to track it.

 Bench was wearing bloody clothing and there was blood in the car, according to the probable cause affidavit.

His grandfather told police that Bench had come to the residence, gathered some clothes and left on foot. There were tire tracks at the scene where the body was found.

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