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3 finalists in line to become next Knox County Criminal Court judge

Judge Kyle Hixson is leaving for the appellate court, creating a vacancy in Knox County.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Two Knoxville lawyers and an Anderson County attorney are finalists to become the next Knox County Criminal Court judge.

The Trial Court Vacancy Commission on Tuesday reviewed a handful of candidates to replace Kyle Hixson, who is moving on to join the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

After meeting with the group, the commission decided to forward these names to Gov. Bill Lee for his ultimate decision: Hector Sanchez, an assistant district attorney for Knox County; private attorney Wesley Stone; and Anderson County prosecutor Emily Faye Abbott.

Lee likely will make his pick within weeks. Knox County has three judges who handle trials in Criminal Court.

Sanchez has been in the DA's office since 2014. He's a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Sanchez, 38, served as a U.S. Marine. He prosecutes violent crimes in Knox County.

Abbott has been in the Anderson County DA's office since 2009, and previously was a prosecutor in the 4th Judicial District. She's a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Abbott, who is in her early 40s, has lived in Tennessee her entire life and in Knox County since 2009.

Stone has practiced law in Tennessee since 2000. He's been a lawyer in Tazewell, Tenn., and in Franklin, Tenn., before moving to Knoxville in 2008 to work for the Hodges, Doughty and Carson firm, where he stayed until opening his own practice in 2020.

Stone, who is in his late 40s, has a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham.

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