Gary Simpson’s preliminary hearing delayed for mental evaluation

Simpson sparked a statewide Amber Alert lasting eight days after he picked up his 9-year-old niece, Carlie Trent, under false pretenses.

Gary Simpson in court on May 23, 2016.

ROGERSVILLE (WATE) – In court Monday, Gary Simpson’s attorney asked for the court to delay a preliminary hearing, for a mental evaluation.

Gary Simpson (Hawkins County Sheriff's Office)
Gary Simpson (Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office)

The public defender for Simpson filed the motion, asking for a mental evaluation to see if “Simpson fully understood the consequences of his alleged actions.” Simpson, 58, is charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and custodial interference after a recent state-wide Amber Alert.

The judge ordered a mental evaluation for Simpson. The case was reset to July 13 at 1:00 p.m.

Carlie Trent’s parents said they were angry at Simpson before, during and after Monday’s hearing. James Trent, Carlie’s Trent’s dad, said he thinks the mental evaluation was ridiculous.

Lois Salyers, Simpson’s aunt said she happy with the attorney’s request. She says she plans on attending every hearing to show that he is loved.

Salyers said Simpson shouldn’t have told a lie to Carlie Trent’s school, but doesn’t know what truly happened. She said the family has questions.

“It’s a sad situation. We don’t understand why. I wish we had answers,” Salyers said through tears. “He’s been a good person all his life. He never even had a speeding ticket.”

Simpson appeared in good spirits, even taking time to wave at his family while walking out of court. He had a shaved head and no facial hair and Simpson’s aunt, Lois Salyers, said she didn’t even recognize him.


Rogersville residents question if Simpson will get a fair trial

Simpson’s story generated a range of emotions from the community in Rogersville. Many people said they would like to see him spend many years in prison, while others feel there is more to the story than what meets the eye.

With all of the attention surrounding the Amber Alert and Simpson’s arrest, some people said they question whether Simpson can get a fair trial in Rogersville, the city at the center of the investigation.

“I don’t know if he can or not with all of the publicity,” David Bailey said. “It might be best if they moved it away from here, just so that he could have a fair trial.”

Bailey said he wants justice, but is glad that Carlie Trent is safe. Others in Rogersville, like Justin Carpenter, want Simpson to pay the price for abducting Trent.

“I want to see him go to jail,” Carpenter said.  “I don’t think he should be out when there’s little kids running around.”

Carpenter said the whole ordeal left the community on edge, prompting parents to keep a closer eye on their children. “They can’t let them go around and play like they used to play out in the streets,” he said. “They have to watch them, not let them do what they used to do in the community. They don’t want to let them go to the park or do what they used to.”

Though Simpson might be the most hated man in Rogersville, he seems to have a fair share of sympathizers.

But others view justice differently.

“I think they should let the man free,” Sharon Lawson said. “I really do, because he didn’t hurt the little girl. He thought she was in some kind of danger, so yeah I think they should set him free.”

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