David Neal Shepard Gets Life Sentence

David Neal Shepard receives a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his part in the death of Dr. Joseph Sonnier.
David Neal Shepard receives a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his part in the death of Dr. Joseph Sonnier.

Shepard admitted to killing Sonnier and pleaded guilty to capital murder in August. He and his laywers made a plea deal for the life sentence to avoid the death penalty.

Defense attorney Dennis Reeves said admitting to the murder is Shepard's way of apologizing to the family.

"I would just kind of like to restate what Sonnier's oldest son said," Reeves said.  "This was David Shepard's way of saying he was sorry by being found guilty of capital murder and being condemned to die in TDC.   It's just the only way and small way of saying he's sorry to the family and taking responsibility for what his role in this murder was."

Although Sonnier’s family said they ‘commend’ Shepard for pleading guilty and it has helped them come to terms with this ‘horrible situation,’ Sonnier’s sister, Missy Bartlett, said in her victim impact statement, “I do not forgive you, and I never will forgive you.” 

Police say an Amarillo doctor, Thomas Michael Dixon, hired Shepard to kill Sonnier last July because he was dating Dixon's ex-girlfriend.

Authorities charged both Shepard and Dixon with capital murder for Sonnier's death.

Dixon is still awaiting trial. 

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