LUBBOCK, Texas — An appeals court tossed out part of the Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon case but upheld enough of the case that he will stay locked up for capital murder. Dr. Dixon was found guilty in Lubbock of hiring a man to stab, shoot and kill Dr. Joseph Sonnier in Southwest Lubbock on July 10, 2012.
The jury was asked to consider two different theories of capital murder, even though there was only one victim. The jury found Dr. Dixon guilty on both counts. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Dixon that he could not be found guilty twice for one crime.
His “murder in the course of committing burglary” case was tossed out. But his murder-for-hire conviction stands, the appeals court ruled.
A portion of the court record summarized the case like this:
Dixon, an Amarillo resident, divorced his wife after he began a relationship with Richelle Shetina. In time, the relationship waned and Shetina began seeing Joseph Sonnier, who lived in Lubbock.
Dixon and his friend and business associate, David Shepard, conversed for at least three months in 2012 regarding plans for dealing with Sonnier. On July 10, 2012, Shepard entered Sonnier’s Lubbock home through a rear window. Shepard killed Sonnier by shooting him five times and stabbing him eleven times.
The appeals court went on to say Dixon paid Shepard with three bars of silver. Shepard took a plea deal for murder and was sentenced to life without parole.
In addition to upholding one of the guilty verdicts, the appeals court also affirmed Dr. Dixon’s sentence of life in prison without parole. As of Friday, Dixon remained in the Lubbock County Detention Center while the case was reviewed by the Seventh Circuit.