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Closing arguments scheduled today in Bench competency trial

DUNCAN  Despite calls for a mistrial by the defense, closing arguments will begin this morning in the competency trial for Miles Sterling Bench. A jury will decide if he will face another trial  and the possibility of a death sentence  for the 2012 murder of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. 

Security video of Bench's September escape from a restraining chair offered jurors a look Wednesday at a more animated Bench than has been present in the courtroom this week.

If found competent, Bench, 23, of Velma, will be placed on an upcoming trial docket, most likely August, for the Stephens County District Court. He was arrested and charged in June 2012 for the murder.

'Some sort of psychological illness'

Wednesday's testimony began with a cross-examination by Bench's counsel, Mitchell Solomon, of Dr. Peter Rausch from the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita, who conducted a competency exam on Bench on March 13. Rausch testified that Bench shows he "suffers from some sort of psychological illness," and agreed with Solomon that a diagnosis and the proper medication would probably help him better assist his defenders  Solomon, Bobby Lewis and Shea Smith, all of Norman, from Oklahoma Indigent Defense Service. 

The defender attempted to get Rausch to agree that Bench's loss of 106 pounds since last September was a sign he was irrational but Rausch countered that's "not necessarily" so. According to prior testimony by detention officers, Bench had stopped eating because he was cut off from receiving "his meds"  an over-the-counter sleep medication. 

"It could be a way to get what he wants," Rausch testified.

Assistant District Attorney Leah Edwards made quick her turn with Rausch. Despite several evaluations at Vinita, Bench hasn't been diagnosed with any particular mental illness, Rausch said. Although he believes Bench shows psychiatric symptoms, his actions could also be related to "depression or rebellion," Rausch testified.

Security camera captures escape attempt

Before showing the security video, David Carroll, a detention officer who was working as a dispatcher on September 12 when Bench escaped from a restraint chair, testified. Carroll said he remembered seeing who he thought was a trusty pass into a holding cell near an exit door. The figure was wearing a white shirt, green pants and cap, and brown boots, he said.

The video was projected onto the courtroom wall for the jurors to view. Played at a faster speed, the video showed a heavier built, clean shaven Bench strapped into the chair. Restraint chair log records indicate he was put into the device shortly before 2:30 p.m. that day. 

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