HAWKINS COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Gary Simpson, a Hawkins County man accused of kidnapping his niece Carlie Trent, was in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing.
Simpson faces a charge of especially aggravated kidnapping that stemmed from a week-long Amber Alert.
Investigators say Simpson lied to school officials back in May when he picked up 9-year-old Carlie, sparking the search.
During the hearing, a TBI special agent took the stand recounting reports of Trent going missing, when she was found and Simpson’s account of the events.
According to the statement, Simpson — Trent’s uncle by marriage — thought she was being treated unfairly by her dad.
“I wanted to take Carlie away from where we were because I didn’t feel like her father Jamie treated her family. Jamie always seem to favor Katie over Carlie. He would treat Katie much better than he would treat Carlie and I wanted that to stop. I was also stressed out over everything I was constantly doing for my family,” The TBI agent read from the stand.
According to the statement, Simpson picked Carlie up from school that day and lied that her dad had been in a wreck. They they went to the store for supplies and drove on back roads until parking in a pasture. The van was parked there until Simpson was found and arrested.
In the statement, Simpson said he and Carlie would go on hikes every day, but otherwise wouldn’t leave that area.
“I had decided about three or four days before I took Carlie that I was going to do it,” Simpson said, according to TBI. “My plan was to take her to a friend of mine’s house next to Roanoke, Virginia. I met him in the Marine Corps a long time ago. I was going to ask his wife to home school Carlie and I was going to find a job.”
The TBI agent said in court Wednesday they tried to track Simpson’s phone, but said Simpson said he lost one of his phones and broke the other phone with a rock when it wouldn’t work.
The judge bound the case over to a grand jury.
Simpson also took the stand Wednesday to ask the judge to lessen his $1 million bond.
The judge denied that request.
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