Johnson City man's federal trial postponed again in Unicoi Co. child-sex case

Brad Hicks • Nov 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM

GREENEVILLE — The federal trial of a Johnson City man accused to attempting to solicit sex from an underage boy in Unicoi County has been delayed again, as a new defense attorney has been appointed in the case.

Rickie Lee Hoyle was set to begin trial in U.S. District Court in Greeneville on Dec. 17, but the trial date has been continued to Jan. 28 at 9 a.m.

On Nov. 8, Hoyle submitted a handwritten letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis H. Inman requesting that his attorney, Nikki Pierce, with the federal defender’s office, be replaced. Pierce was appointed at Hoyle’s initial appearance in U.S. District Court.

“I do not feel my present attorney, Nikki Pierce, has given my case the attention it needs,” Hoyle wrote. “But that is not the main reason. The main reason is because I have been misled, lied to and had my faith in God demeaned by her investigator Brian Hackett.”

On Nov. 14, Inman filed a response granting Hoyle’s request.

“However, it must be pointed out that the motion is granted not because of any action or inaction on the part of Ms. Pierce, or any action or inaction on the part of her investigator, but rather because of Mr. Hoyle’s actions that have irreparably compromised attorney Pierce’s ability to represent him further in the case. In other words, Mr. Hoyle’s motion is granted, albeit reluctantly, for attorney Pierce’s sake not Mr. Hoyle’s,” Inman wrote in his filed response to the motion.

Attorney Donnie Young was appointed to represent Hoyle, and Young requested a continuance in the case. Inman granted Young’s request. A pretrial conference will take place Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. A motions deadline has been set for Dec. 16, and a response deadline set for Jan. 3.

A plea agreement deadline has now been set for Jan. 14.

In June, a federal grand jury indicted Hoyle on one count of inducing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. It is alleged that between June 1, 2012, to May 23, Hoyle used a “facility or means of interstate commerce” to attempt to or knowingly persuade, induce, entice or coerce a person less than 18 years old to engage in sexual activity.

Hoyle was arrested May 24 after a joint investigation by the Erwin Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. A complaint filed in U.S. District Court on May 29 said Hoyle began contacting the alleged victim in 2012 via Facebook. This led to a personal meeting in January in which Hoyle “inappropriately touched” the victim, the complaint said.

In May, Hoyle offered the victim $200 “with certain circumstances” to help the boy with car repairs, the complaint said. When the victim asked the circumstances, Hoyle responded that he wanted to perform oral sex on the juvenile, the complaint said.

“On May 21, 2013, Hoyle drove to the home of (the victim), who allowed Hoyle to perform oral sex on him for $200. Hoyle did not provide $200 to (the victim),” the complaint said.

After the Erwin Police Department was contacted, the victim received a text message from Hoyle on May 23 in which Hoyle expressed interest in sexual activity, court documents said. The EPD contacted the TBI for its assistance. On May 24, Hoyle was arrested after arriving at the Unicoi Walmart to meet the juvenile, law enforcement officials said.

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