Carlie Trent Kidnapper Gary Simpson Appears in Court, Says He Doesn’t Understand Charges

May 16, 2016 Updated: May 16, 2016

Gary Simpson, the man accused of kidnapping 9-year-old girl Carlie Trent and who sparked an eight-day-long search, has appeared in court and faces charges.

Simpson and Carlie were found on Thursday by two local men. One of them reportedly held Simpson, the uncle of the girl, at gunpoint while the other called the authorities.

Carlie Trent (L) and her uncle Gary Simpson. (Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)
Carlie Trent (L) and her uncle Gary Simpson. (Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

When he appeared in court on Monday morning, Simpson, 57, said he didn’t understand why he was charged with kidnapping his niece, the Tennessean reported.

Judge Lane Wolfenbarger asked him if he understood the charges, especially aggravated kidnapping and custodial interference, Simpson—clad in an orange jumpsuit—said, “I don’t understand the kidnapping.” Simpson is accused of removing Carlie from school without her parents’ permission.

“I’m charged with something her dad’s girlfriend does occasionally,” said Simpson, according to WJHL-TV.

Wolfenbarger then read the warrants charging him with abducting her from school on May 4. Simpson said, “No, I don’t” when asked if he had an attorney.

Simpson was then asked a series of questions to see if he had a lawyer. Simpson said he was unemployed and he and his wife spent their time taking care of their handicapped son. Their only income is their son’s SSI, or supplemental security income.

The Hawkins County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Simpson at a hearing set for May 23.

He was also ordered by the judge not to contact Carlie or her immediate family, WJHL reported. He also must not come within 1,000 feet of her, including at school or her home.

WHJL-TV has more on the judge’s response:

In response, the judge went on to read statements from an affidavit of complaint from Carlie’s father who told investigators on the evening of May 4, that his daughter Carlie did not get off the bus at their home. Simpson, the child’s uncle, allegedly told school administrators that Carlie’s father had been in a car accident and that Carlie would not be at school the following day. The father told investigators, “It was not like Gary to not return home with Carlie and he had not given Gary permission to pick his child up.”

According to NewsChannel 9, Simpson is in solitary confinement at Hawkins County jail on a $1-million bond. He’s in a “turtle suit” in order to prevent him from committing suicide. A guard also is assigned to him.

They were found by Clinch Valley Thursday after four men spent the day searching for them. Donnie Lawson searched his brother’s property with Stewart Franklin, who found Carlie walking while carrying a teddy bear. Franklin then held Simpson at gunpoint.