Former Amarillo doctor to stay in prison after court affirms murder-for-hire conviction

Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 3:00 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo’s Seventh Court of Appeals released an opinion Friday that keeps former plastic surgeon Thomas Michael Dixon in prison for life with no chance for parole.

The 7th Court of Appeals in Amarillo acquitted Dixon of the second count of capital murder, but the first count of capital murder was affirmed. This means he will continue to serve his sentence of life without parole for the murder of Lubbock pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier.

In July 2012, Dr. Sonnier was found shot and stabbed to death in his home. Court documents said the murder was “...the result of a love triangle turned murder-for-hire plot.”

David Shepard accepted a plea deal for Dr. Sonnier’s murder in 2013 and is currently serving a life in prison sentence.

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

Court testimony showed Dixon paid Shepard with three bars of silver, worth around $10,000, in the murder-for-hire plot.

A jury convicted Dr. Dixon for paying Shepard to kill Dr. Sonnier in 2015 after an initial mistrial. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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