Dr. Joseph Sonnier was a pathologist in Lubbock, Texas, who was discovered murdered in his residence in 2012. He was discovered shot and stabbed to demise virtually two years to the day that his ex-wife Becky Gallegos was murdered. Ahead of the Dateline NBC episode in regards to the case, here is what you want to know in regards to the crime, how Dr. Thomas Dixon was accountable, and the way the trial went down earlier than Dixon was sentenced to life in jail.
Joseph Sonnier Was Murdered July 11, 2012. His Ex-Wife Was Murdered July 12, 2010
According to ABC News, Sonnier married his highschool sweetheart Becky Gallegos when he was simply 19 years previous. They later had two sons, Dallas and James Sonnier, and informally adopted a 3rd boy, Phillip Prestwood, whom Sonnier thought of a son.
In 2001, Gallegos and Sonnier divorced. She later remarried Fermin “Juan” Gallegos, however in 2010, he murdered her by capturing her twice within the chest. He known as 911 after which turned the gun on himself, in accordance to My San Antonio. The responding deputies discovered him alive in the lounge with a gunshot wound to the top. He died later on the hospital; he additionally shot the household’s black-and-white canine.
In an interview with Lubbock Online, son Dallas mentioned that he believed Gallegos shot his mom as a result of she was planning to divorce him and spend extra time in California to be shut to Dallas’ new child daughter, Camilla, her first grandchild.
“My mother had saved my aunt within the loop. My mother knew she was going to divorce him, and that he was not taking it effectively. She already deliberate to spend extra time in California, nearer to her granddaughter,” mentioned Sonnier. “From what we all know, she had been packing upstairs that day. Her husband was drunk. He shot their canine, we presume to persuade her to come downstairs, after which he shot her.”
James Sonnier later advised ABC News, “I received the decision [about our father’s murder] the day earlier than the two-year anniversary of my mom’s demise. I assumed possibly it had one thing to do along with her demise. That’s how out of left area and fully out of nowhere this was.”
Two Years Later, the Sons Received Word Their Father Had Been Murdered
A landscaper found Sonnier’s physique and known as the police. Lubbock police Detective Zach Johnson advised ABC News that it was clear this wasn’t some form of theft gone improper.
“We knew that we have been coping with one thing that was successful, , of types … anyone had come to this home and to kill this individual particularly,” mentioned Johnson.
Police questioned Sonnier’s then-girlfriend, a lady named Richelle Shetina, who gave them the title of her ex-boyfriend as somebody who presumably would have been concerned. That man was Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon, an Amarillo, Texas-based plastic surgeon. She advised police that he needed her again although she advised him she was seeing somebody new.
“He was obsessive about Richelle. He was having lots of issues getting over this break-up. He simply could not appear to let her go,” mentioned Det. Johnson.
However, Dixon had an alibi. He was out to dinner together with his med scholar girlfriend Ashley Woolbert that night time in Amarillo, some two hours away from the scene of the crime.
But a tip got here in from registered nurse Paul Reynolds that led investigators to Dave Shepard, who mentioned he had killed a person in Lubbock. The police discovered surveillance footage of Shepard and Dixon collectively the day after the homicide, and Dixon was later arrested for hiring Shepard to kill Sonnier. Shepard mentioned Dixon paid him with a field of Cuban cigars and three bars of silver. The gun used within the homicide was discovered within the lake behind Dixon’s workplace; it was registered to Dixon’s brother.
Dixon’s first trial was a hung jury, however the second trial’s jury discovered him responsible of homicide and sentenced him to life in jail with out the potential of parole. According to ABC News, Shepard accepted a plea deal in 2013 to keep away from the demise penalty in trade for testifying towards Dixon. He is presently serving his personal life sentence.
Dixon’s attorneys appealed the conviction, nonetheless, and in 2018, the seventh Court of Appeals overturned it and let him out of jail. But the state of Texas appealed that call to the Court of Criminal Appeals, the very best court docket for prison issues within the state. In January 2020, the Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the seventh Circuit’s determination, however Dixon stays out of jail on a $2 million bond whereas his attorneys file new points with the seventh Circuit, in accordance to KFDA.
Dateline NBC airs Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays on NBC.