Three men accused of killing young Knoxville hero Zaevion Dobson will have to accept a Knox County jury hearing their murder case.

Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steve Sword ruled pre-trial publicity hasn't been so great that lawyers will be unable to find an impartial local panel.

The trial is set to start Dec. 4.

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Christopher Bassett, Richard Williams and Kipling Colbert are accused of killing the 15-year-old Zaevion in December 2015 while trying to settle a grudge with guns in the Lonsdale housing development.

More: Film honoring Dobson to air

The teen, who attended Fulton High School and wore No. 24 on the Falcons' football team, was an innocent victim caught in gunfire, according to police.

Zaevion Dobson photo
<p>Zaevion Dobson, submitted by family</p>

The defendants sought to convince Sword that media attention has been pervasive.

President Obama paid tribute to Zaevion after his death. ESPN posthumously awarded him the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 2016.

Sword acknowledged in a written ruling that there's been much attention given to the teen. But he said he doesn't think there's been a great deal of attention given to the three charged with killing him.

"Very little, if any, national coverage has been directed toward the defendants in this case," Sword wrote.

He noted local coverage about Bassett has featured "more factual allegations," but said there's been very little information reported about what Williams and Colbert allegedly did.

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"The court expects that few individuals in the community can recite the names of the accused in this case," Sword wrote.

Steps can be taken, he ruled, such as close questioning of the potential panel, to ensure a fair panel is seated.