DUNCAN — Miles Sterling Bench, 21, of Velma, appeared Monday just before noon, in Stephens County District Court for the first time and officially was charged with murder in the first degree in the death of Braylee Rae Henry, 16, of Velma.
On behalf of the victim and the state of Oklahoma, Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks asked no bond be set for Bench.
Judge Jerry Herberger granted the request and after hearing Hicks statements said he believed there was sufficient evidence to hold Bench without bond. Herberger also cited public safety as an additional factor to hold Bench in the Stephens County Jail.
Several members of Henry’s family were in the courtroom to hear the state present its charges against Bench. Hicks addressed the missing person reports that had been filed that night, evidence found in the back room of the convenience store where Bench worked and also items found in Henry’s car. Bench is also being charged with larceny of an automobile.
The family remained quiet as they listened to Hicks share evidence surrounding Henry’s death.
Hicks said a missing person report had been filed on the evening of June 6 for the clerk of the Tee Pee Totem convenience store, Bence, in Velma. Hicks said officers found a pool of blood about 18-inches in diameter in the back room of the store. During the investigation, a second missing person report was issued for Henry.
Hicks told the court officers then went to the home of Bench’s grandparents. It was in a secluded area near that home where Henry’s body was found, according to law enforcement.
Two things led to the quick discovery of Henry, Sheriff Wayne McKinney said, after the courtroom hearing. One was a witness had seen Henry’s vehicle traveling east on Oklahoma 7. The other was a video surveillance tape from another Velma business that backed up what the witness had seen and reported.
Additionally, Hicks said Bench had provided unsolicited comments when he was arrested by Custer County Sheriff’s Office deputies, near Weatherford, and again in the presence of DA Task Force Supervisor Justin Scott.
“I think I (expletive) up. I think I killed somebody earlier tonight,” Hicks said Bench had shared while in custody at Custer County. That statement was also in the report filed by the state.
Hicks said blood also was found in the vehicle and on Bench, the alleged suspect.
“Further investigation items found in the vehicle were peroxide, haircolor, razors and a change of clothes. We believe he was trying to flee not only Stephens County but also the state of Oklahoma,” Hicks said.
Prior to Hicks presenting his evidence for denial of bond, Herberger informed Bench he would be represented by attorney Don Herron only for the purpose of the formal charges. He indicated Bench did want to complete the paperwork to be considered for court-appointed counsel.
Bench’s next court appearance is a preliminary hearing set for 9 a.m. Aug. 13.
McKinney said he has requested reports from the medical examiner and OSBI be expedited and expects initial reports to be completed this week.
“Out of respect for her family, I don’t want to release a lot of details. We are trying to be sensitive to their feelings,” he said.