Brian Roth

Texas Surgeon's Friend Suspected in 2012 Murder

A West Texas plastic surgeon says he initially never suspected a friend might be involved in the 2012 slaying of a pathologist dating his ex-girlfriend.

Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon of Amarillo wrapped up three days of testimony Friday in his Lubbock capital murder retrial. The case involves the stabbing and shooting death of Dr. Joseph Sonnier III, whose body was found July 10, 2012, at his Lubbock home.

Dixon's business partner, David Neal Shepard, agreed to a plea deal in 2013 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the slaying. Dixon has denied allegations that he hired Shepard to kill Sonnier in exchange for three bars of silver worth $9,000.

Dixon testified that he at first did not suspect Shepard and never called police because he feared being tied to the murder investigation, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.

Dixon, whose first trial ended in a hung jury, was interviewed by Lubbock detectives July 11 at his home after his ex-girlfriend identified him as a person of interest.

After Dixon's testimony, defense attorneys introduced previous testimony from Laureen Marasigan, who accused Shepard of misappropriating more than $83,000 of her father's estate after she asked him to assist her as executor. Shepard was a friend of the woman's late father, she said.

The capital murder trial resumes Monday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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