Tennessee man charged with kidnapping niece appears in court

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ROGERSVILLE (WATE) – The uncle of Carlie Trent appeared in court Monday after kidnapping the 9-year-old, according to investigators. A preliminary hearing was set for May 23.

A judge appointed a public defender to counsel Simpson during the remainder of the case. Simpson claims he does not have the money for an attorney. He stated that he is unemployed and takes care of his son who is in a wheelchair.

Simpson and Trent were found near Clinch Valley Thursday. Donnie Lawson searched his brother’s property with Stewart Franklin. When Franklin was riding an ATV, he found Trent walking while carrying a teddy bear. Lawson took the child to the nearest residence to call 911 and Franklin held Simpson at gunpoint.

“Here comes Donnie running just as hard as he could run yelling, ‘Call 911! Call the law, call Amber Alert right quick,’ because he said, ‘I’ve found the little girl,’” said Joleen Sizemore.

Simpson faces charges for especially aggravated kidnapping and custodial interference. He is not allowed to have any contact with Trent or her immediate family. However, during Monday’s hearing, Simpson stated he did not understand the kidnapping charge.

Gary Simpson is in solitary confinement at the Hawkins County jail on a $1-million bond. According to the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office, Simpson is in a “turtle suit” in order to prevent him from trying to commit suicide.Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

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