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Dixon still in prison for capital murder after Amarillo court dismisses 2nd count

Dr. Thomas Dixon
Dr. Thomas Dixon
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:15 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A former Lubbock doctor will continue to serve life in prison after being convicted of capital murder in 2015, after a second count was thrown out of court on Friday. The court agreed that he can’t be convicted twice for the same crime.

The 7th Court of Appeals in Amarillo acquitted Thomas Dixon on the second count of capital murder he was handed in 2015, but because the first count of capital murder was affirmed, he will continue to serve his sentence of life without parole for the murder of Lubbock physician Joseph Sonnier, M.D.

Sonnier was found murdered in his home on July 10, 2012. Court documents said, “...the result of a love triangle turned murder-for-hire plot.” The gunman, David Shepard, pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A jury found Dixon guilty of two counts of capital murder in 2015. Count One of the indictment alleged the offense was committed for remuneration. Count Two alleged the offense was committed in the course of a burglary of a habitation. That first trial resulted in a mistrial.

After review in the Seventh District of Texas Court of Appeals, Dixon was acquitted on the charge of murder while committing a burglary.

Because he was convicted twice for the murder of Sonnier, Dixon filed complaints with his appeal. One complaint said it was a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy clause for him to be convicted twice for the same crime.

Thomas Michael Dixon (Jan. 2022)
Thomas Michael Dixon (Jan. 2022)(Lubbock County Detention Center)

In January 2020, the 7th Court of Appeals decision reversing Dr. Thomas Dixon’s murder-for-hire conviction was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in January. At the time, he was out of jail on a $2 million bond secured by family land. Justices revoked that bond in April 2020, and Dixon was sent back to jail

Dixon’s attorneys argued to keep him out of jail while they filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices sent instructions to the Lubbock district court where Dixon was convicted to complete the bond revocation.

Attorneys for Thomas Dixon appealed the conviction on 50 issues in three categories: insufficient evidence to convict, cell site information obtained without a warrant and the exclusion of the public from the courtroom on three occasions.

According to the memorandum opinion from Justice Lawrence Doss filed on Jan. 13, 2022, the 7th Court of Appeals overruled issues 1 and 2, sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenges, but sustained his issues challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress historical cell site location information obtained without a warrant (issues 43-47) and exclusion of the public from the courtroom (issues 11-16).

“On the State’s petition for discretionary review, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed our judgment as to the cell site location data and closed courtroom grounds and remanded for our consideration of Appellant’s remaining issues.”

Other than issue 17, the double jeopardy complaint, all other issues were overruled and affirm Dixon’s conviction for capital murder.

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