State requests Dixon bail set at $2 million

State requests Dixon bail set at $2 million

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Thomas Michael Dixon, 54 Thomas Michael Dixon, 54
David Shepard David Shepard

LUBBOCK, Texas - According to court documents filed in the 7th Court of Appeals, the State has requested bail be set at $2 million pending a retrial of Thomas Michael Dixon. 

The one-time Amarillo plastic surgeon was sentenced to life in prison without parole for hiring his business partner, David Shepard to murder Lubbock Pathologist Joseph Sonnier in 2012. 

A Jury convicted Dixon on two counts of capital murder, one for paying Shepard for the murder, and the other for Sonnier's death. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole. 

According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, when setting bail, the primary factors to consider are "length of the sentence and the nature of the offense”. The State argues that Dixon and Shepard spent many months plotting the murder of Dr. Sonnier, and that it wasn't an act of random violence or sudden passion.

On December 16, 2018, Dixon's attorneys filed a motion for his bail to be set at $100,000, arguing that Dixon "is not charged as having committed any act of violence." The State responded by arguing capital murder is a violent offense, and that Dixon has being charged and found guilty of capital murder, and without Dixon's actions, Dr. Sonnier would not have been brutally murdered.

The court a few weeks ago reversed Dixon's convictions and remanded for a new trial because of two issues. One being cell phone data being obtained without a warrant, and the second being three instances where the court was closed to the public. According to court documents, the State believes these two issues do not affect the State's ability to retry Dixon. The State argues a retrial will solve the issue of public trial, and that the information gathered from cell phone data was not central to the State's case.

According to the court documents, during the initial trial, Dixon's bail was set at $2 million on September 16, 2015. Dixon posted bail that same week. The trial court accepted Dixon's family land, valued at $3 million as collateral. The State is requesting that bail be reset at $2 million "not to be used as an instrument of oppression, but because it is a carefully calculated amount that will ensure Dixon's appearance at his retrial".

The state argues that Dixon has no ties or associations with Lubbock County, and has had his medical license revoked.  With no clear employment and absence of ties to Lubbock County, the State argues it is necessary to have a higher bail amount.

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