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Bench found competent and will stand trial

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DUNCAN, Okla._After deliberating for just over an hour, a Stephens County jury decided Miles Bench is mentally capable of standing trial for the murder of 16-year-old Braylee Henry.

They reached their verdict after hearing three days worth of testimony from medical experts and law enforcement staff who observed him during his time in jail. After the jury reached their decision, the judge surprisingly announced that the trial would start next week instead of August as was originally planned.

It definitely wasn't an easy decision for jurors, rather than give a guilty or not guilty decision the jury had to factor in two questions: one, does Miles Bench understand his charges and their consequences and two, is he able to effectively communicate with his legal team when discussing his case? Two questions that jurors unanimously agreed the answers were "yes."

"Thank you to the jury. It's been a long time coming. We waited a long time for this decision and we're grateful for it," said Renee Henson, Braylee Henry's mother. "Miles Bench is competent and he should go to trial. And we will go to trial."

It's the verdict that Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks and Braylee Henry's family was hoping to hear. Hicks says he felt testimony straight from jail was undeniable.

"You have detention officers who have daily contact with this defendant and in that daily contact, he has conversations with them. Those conversations are rational," said Hicks.

Despite the defense saying Bench's mental health deteriorated from the time he entered jail to the present day, the state focused on the fact that even in court, bench is doing as he's told.

"He understands. He can follow directions. And I really think that was a key piece of our case," said Hicks.

Both sides of the case packed a powerful punch in closing arguments. The defense told the jury that Miles Bench could eventually be competent with ample time, medication and rehabilitation. But the state fired back, saying Bench's starvation and restraint escape in jail were planned and calculated, including his plan to plea insanity.

Now the case moves forward. Legal teams and Braylee's family alike have braced themselves as Bench's murder trial is now just days away.

"We're just grateful. We're just grateful we got this far. And we're going to prepare ourselves for what's coming," said Henson.

Bench's murder trial was originally scheduled for this month, before the issue of competency arose. This hearing pushed the murder trial back to August, but now that Bench is mentally capable to be in that courtroom, the district judge has rescheduled the murder trial of Miles Bench to begin first thing Monday morning.

The murder trial could last several days. Bench can be sentenced to death, if he's found guilty.

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