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Miles Bench likely to be tried by feds


A death sentence struck down in the case of a brutal murder of a teenager.Today, Oklahoma’s top criminal court threw out the conviction of Miles Bench. He was found guilty of the killing of 16-year-old Braylee Henry in 2015 in southern Oklahoma.Bench will almost certainly be retried in federal court. Some of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals judges made clear they didn’t want to make the ruling. The judges unanimously decided to strike down the conviction following the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision. They found that Bench was a tribal member and the crime happened on tribal land. As such, he should’ve been the federal government, not the state, that prosecuted Bench. It was an emotional trial in which Bench was convicted and sentenced to die for the heinous killing of Henry. Now, another trial is possible in federal court.The appeals court rejected arguments – and reversed a lower court’s decision – that it was too late for Bench to make the McGirt claim. But there was more in the opinion.Judge Gary Lumpkin once again said he doesn’t agree with the McGirt decision. But he’s still required to follow it, saying, “This despicable crime occurred in Indian Country.”Judge Robert Hudson called on Congress to make a “practical solution” to the issues the McGirt ruling has caused.Presiding Judge Dana Kuehn wrote: “I recognize and understand the confusion, frustration, and pain that comes with the inevitable consequences when we apply McGirt to the cases before us. If it were possible to avoid these consequences through my legal analysis, I would.”Bench will not be released from prison. The most likely next steps are a transfer to federal custody. Then another trial in federal court. It’s unclear whether the death penalty will be an option. All of this comes as Attorney General Mike Hunter is bringing some of these issues back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A death sentence struck down in the case of a brutal murder of a teenager.

Today, Oklahoma’s top criminal court threw out the conviction of Miles Bench. He was found guilty of the killing of 16-year-old Braylee Henry in 2015 in southern Oklahoma.

Bench will almost certainly be retried in federal court. Some of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals judges made clear they didn’t want to make the ruling.

The judges unanimously decided to strike down the conviction following the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision. They found that Bench was a tribal member and the crime happened on tribal land. As such, he should’ve been the federal government, not the state, that prosecuted Bench.

It was an emotional trial in which Bench was convicted and sentenced to die for the heinous killing of Henry. Now, another trial is possible in federal court.

The appeals court rejected arguments – and reversed a lower court’s decision – that it was too late for Bench to make the McGirt claim.

But there was more in the opinion.

Judge Gary Lumpkin once again said he doesn’t agree with the McGirt decision. But he’s still required to follow it, saying, “This despicable crime occurred in Indian Country.”

Judge Robert Hudson called on Congress to make a “practical solution” to the issues the McGirt ruling has caused.

Presiding Judge Dana Kuehn wrote: “I recognize and understand the confusion, frustration, and pain that comes with the inevitable consequences when we apply McGirt to the cases before us. If it were possible to avoid these consequences through my legal analysis, I would.”

Bench will not be released from prison. The most likely next steps are a transfer to federal custody. Then another trial in federal court. It’s unclear whether the death penalty will be an option. All of this comes as Attorney General Mike Hunter is bringing some of these issues back to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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