UPDATE: Gary Simpson's preliminary hearing set for May 23 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Gary Simpson's preliminary hearing set for May 23

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Gary Simpson enters the Hawkins County courtroom Monday. Gary Simpson enters the Hawkins County courtroom Monday.
Gary Simpson Gary Simpson

UPDATE:  HAWKINS COUNTY (WBIR) - The man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl that launched an Amber Alert appeared in court for the first time.

A judge set Gary Simpson's preliminary hearing for May 23.

Simpson is accused of picking Carlie Trent up from school under false pretenses. Simpson is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and custodial interference.

Authorities are holding Simpson on a $1 million bond.

A judge also appointed Simpson an a public defender on Monday morning.

Simpson said in court Monday he was not employed, and takes care of his son, who is special needs.

The judge said Simpson must remain 1,000 feet away from Trent.

Specially trained investigators have already interviewed Trent. If the investigation goes to trial, it’s possible Trent would have to testify against her alleged kidnapper.

It's unclear how much Trent will be needed in the remainder of the investigation, but the District Attorney’s Office said they want to get her life back to normal.

“We make sure she's only interviewed by people who've been trained to interview children we try to get her back into her life and get it as normal as possible,” District Attorney Dan Armstrong said. “At the same time, try to get as much information as possible from her to find out exactly what happened in those eight days she was missing.”

Armstrong said there could be more charges made against Simpson.

If Simpson is convicted of the especially aggravated kidnapping and custodial interference charges, he would likely serve 15-25 years in prison.

Read more at WBIR's website


PREVIOUS STORY: HAWKINS COUNTY (WBIR) - The Hawkins County Sheriff's Office released a mug shot of Gary Simpson, the man charged with especially aggravated kidnapping of Carlie Trent.

On Thursday, authorities found Simpson and Trent, 9, safely on private property on Clinch Mountain, which is in the northern part of Hawkins County.

Authorities took Simpson to the Hawkins County Jail, where is being held without bond as of Friday morning. He is charged with custodial interference and aggravated kidnapping. Simpson's first court appearance is set for Monday.

READ MORE | TBI: Two heroes found and saved Carlie Trent

TBI director Mark Gwyn said two local men--- Donnie Lawson and Stewart Franklin, located Trent and Simpson on Thursday.

The two were part of a group of four friends who have been searching the rural parts of the county for days.

One of them held Simpson at gun point while the other called 911 and rescued Trent. A TBI spokesperson said Franklin held a gun on Simpson while Lawson got to Trent and called 911. 

A celebration to welcome Trent home at Rogersville City Park is scheduled for noon ET Saturday.

Read more at WBIR's website.

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