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Man convicted in murder-for-hire of Lubbock doctor to get a new trial

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Posted at 11:53 AM, Dec 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-14 12:53:35-05

By Amber Stegall

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Three years after he was given two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murder-for-hire of Covenant’s chief pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier, Amarillo plastic surgeon Thomas Dixon has been granted a new trial by the 7th District Court of Appeals in Amarillo.

The court issued its opinion on Thursday, Dec. 13, saying Dr. Dixon’s appeal of his conviction in the death of Sonnier has merits. In court documents, Dixon’s attorney presented 50 issues challenging his convictions.

A jury unanimously convicted Amarillo doctor Thomas Dixon of murder in November 2015. Dixon was convicted of hiring David Shepard to kill Lubbock doctor Joseph Sonnier in July 2012. At the Lubbock County Courthouse it only took two hours for the jury to find Dixon guilty on two counts of capital murder.

It was later found the Sonnier and Dixon knew each other through Dixon’s ex-girlfriend, Richelle Shetina. Shortly after Dixon and Shetina ended their relationship, Shetina began to date Sonnier.

The court ruled Dixon paid his friend three bars of silver worth $3000 each to murder Covenant’s chief pathologist Joseph Sonnier in a murder-for-hire plot. The friend was identified as David Shepard. On July 11th Dr. Sonnier was found shot and stabbed to death inside his Lubbock home near 21st Street and Toledo.

Shepard pleaded no contest to the charge of capital murder and was given a life without parole sentence during a plea negotiation that dismissed one of the counts against him. Because of the plea bargain, Shepard has no right to appeal.

There is no word on when the new trial will take place.

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