Death Penalty off the Table in Dixon Case

- LUBBOCK -- An Amarillo doctor will not face the death penalty in an alleged murder for hire plot.

    Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon, 50, however, could face the same penalty as his alleged accomplice.

    Dixon is accused in the 2012 murder of Lubbock pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier.

    Prosecutors believe Dixon paid a long time friend to kill Sonnier because he was dating Dixon's ex-girlfriend.

    Judge Jim Bob Darnell issued a gag order in this case two months ago.  But, the judge confirms, the district attorney, Matt Powell, informed him he would not be seeking the death penalty.

    If convicted, Dixon faces a maximum of life in prison without parole.      The same punishment his alleged accomplice, David Neal Shepard, received last summer when he pleaded guilty.

    Dixon is accused of paying shepherd $9,000 in silver bars to kill Sonnier.

    The Lubbock pathologist was found shot and stabbed to death in his home in July of 2012.

    Dixon's trial is expected to begin sometime in late October in Lubbock.

    He remains in the Lubbock county jail on $10,000,000 bond.

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