Huntington–Two assistants, and a family law judge are among the those vying to become Cabell
County’s interim prosecuting attorney. 

While conducting interviews last month, the Cabell County Commission revealed four attorneys
applied to fill the vacancy of Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney Sean K. “Corky” Hammers.
Gov. Jim Justice on Dec. 6 announced his appointment of Hammers to fill the vacancy in the
Sixth Judicial Circuit created by the abrupt and unexpected retirement of Judge Christopher D.
Chiles in October.  

President Kelli Sobonya announced the four candidates are William “Bill” Dawson, Jr., Ashley
Lockwood, Payton Smith and Jason Spears.  

A former law clerk with the West Virginia Supreme Court, and Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred
Ferguson, Dawson, 48, became an assistant Cabell County prosecutor on January 6. In 2020, he
unsuccessfully ran for the Ward 6 seat on Huntington City Council.  

Lockwood,53, is owner of the downtown law firm of Lockwood and Lockwood, specializing in
criminal defense and personal injury cases.  

Smith, 28, became an assistant Cabell prosecutor on June 6, 2022, nine months following her
admission to the West Virginia State Bar. Along with West Virginia, she is licensed to practice
law in South Carolina and Tennessee. 

Smith is the daughter of Brad and Alys Smith, the president and first lady of Marshall University.
Spears, 46, is one of three Cabell County family court judges. In 2016, he defeated incumbent
Ronald Anderson for the Division 1 seat. Prior to his election as family law judge, Spears served as an assistant Cabell prosecutor specializing in juvenile, arson, violent crime, narcotics, and truancy cases. 

According to Sobonya, the Commission has a special meeting scheduled for January 2 to name
Hammers’ replacement. Under state code, the appointee will hold office until Dec. 31, 2024, and
will have to successfully run in the November general election to remain in office for a full-term.
**Freelance journalist Norma J. Brown contributed to this story.

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