ROGERSVILLE (WATE) – The case of a Hawkins County man charged with kidnapping his niece, leading to an AMBER Alert and a massive search, has been bound over to the grand jury after a hearing during which Gary Simpson himself took the stand.
Simpson, 58, is charged with one count of especially aggravated kidnapping in the case involving 9-year-old Carlie Trent. Carlie was the subject of an eight-day AMBER Alert in May. People spent countless hours searching for her after Simpson, her uncle by marriage, took her from school. She was finally found in a rural area by three men.
During a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent James Wiley took the stand. Wiley had been assigned to the case and was working with Rogersville police. He conducted an interview with Simpson after he was arrested.
Simpson waived his Miranda rights during the interview. While on the stand, Wiley read from a signed statement detailing Simpson’s admissions during the interview, including why he said he took his niece, why they were hiding in a remote location, and what they did while investigators searched.
Wiley read that Simpson’s initial plan was to take Carlie to a friend’s home near Roanoke, Virginia. He said he felt Carlie’s father, James Trent, was not treating her well and cared more for her younger sister. Simpson said he and Carlie went on 10 to 12 hikes while they were hiding and during those days, he had two cell phones, but smashed one with a rock and lost another while hiking.
The defense did not call any witnesses. The judge bound the case over to the grand jury on probable cause.
The defense did, however, ask for a reduction of Simpson’s $1 million bond, which required him to take the stand. Simpson said if his bond was reduced, he would live with his father on their property in the Goshen Valley area of Hawkins County.
Simpson then explained why he needed his bond reduced, “My dad is completely blind and my son has been in intensive care for three weeks with all his food going into his lungs instead of his stomach. And he’s confined to a wheelchair and needs my help to take care of him.”
When his attorney asked if he wants to take care of his son, Simpson said yes. “My son is my life,” he added.
If the bond was reduced, Simpson would be required to wear a GPS device, and Carlie’s family would have a receiver that would notify them if Simpson was close. Simpson said he could not afford the $300 to $400 monthly fee associated with the GPS device. The judge denied the motion to reduce his bond.
Simpson was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation at a hearing earlier this year to determine whether he understood his actions. The results have come back, but will not be released due to privacy laws.