Dixon capital murder conviction overturned - FOX34 Lubbock

Dixon capital murder conviction overturned

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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 court has overturned the capital murder conviction of Thomas Michael Dixon.

The documents were filed Thursday, December 13 in the 7th Court of Appeals in Amarillo.

According to the order, "Pursuant to the opinion of the Court dated December 13, 2018, it is ordered, adjudged and decreed that the judgment of the trial court be reversed and this cause is remanded to the trial court." 

This could result in a new trial for 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. 

Former District Attorney Matt Powell said Dixon paid Shepard three silver bars worth about $9,000 at the time. Shepard watched Doctor Sonnier's home for weeks, then on July 11th, 2012, broke in through a window and shot and stabbed the doctor. 

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

In the documents filed, there were dozens of issues explained. The two that influenced the order were regarding cell phone data and the three instances where the court was closed to the public. 

Dixon's Appellate Attorney Cynthia Orr said Dixon now has the possibility of walking out of prison, a man innocent until proven guilty.

"When someone is pending trial and is not convicted, the Texas Constitution requires that they be released on bond," Orr said. "So I expect Doctor Dixon will obtain release on bail pending any further proceedings."

At the time of the investigation in 2012, a warrant was not used to obtain the cell phone data. However, a new Supreme Court ruling on an unrelated case in 2018, states there must be a warrant to obtain data. 

The Lubbock County District Attorney's office has no comment as it is an "active, pending case." A representative of Sonnier's family and Richelle Shetina said if need be, they are ready to go to trial again.

Statement from Dixon's Defense Attorney's Dan Hurley and Frank Sellers:

After a long wait, we are pleased the Court of Appeals agreed Mike Dixon suffered an unfair trial. Along with his current postconviction legal team, we look forward to fully proving his innocence to a new jury soon.

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