Police still investigating Sonnier murder, one year later - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Police still investigating Sonnier murder, one year later

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Dr. Joseph Sonnier Dr. Joseph Sonnier
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of the murder of Dr. Joseph Sonnier, Covenant's Chief Pathologist. Sonnier was fatally shot in his home in the 4600 block of 21st street on July 10, 2012.

A year later, the investigation is still ongoing.

"The investigation is still going on. As crazy as that sounds, a year later, there's some of those things, some of the aspects of that case that just takes some time = some of the DNA analysis and things like that," said Lubbock County District Attorney Matt Powell.

Powell said it typically takes six months to a year to complete DNA testing.

"We're also doing some forensic testing on the computers and on some phones. When you search those records, and the amount of work you have to do, it just takes some time," he said.

Authorities have connected Amarillo Plastic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Dixon and David Shepard to the crime.

According to the arrest warrant, Dixon paid Shepard three silver bars worth about $3,000 each to kill Sonnier. Police say the murder is connected to a woman who once dated Dixon, but was Dr. Sonnier's girlfriend at the time of his death.

Powell said they are close to completing the testing phase of the investigation.

"Obviously the court is going to give some deference to time as far as prosecutors, making sure we got everything that we need, the law enforcement handling everything that they need to be done and the defense attorney," Powell said.

Powell says because of the significance of the case, because the significance of the punishment, these cases take longer. He says they will get to the case as quickly as possible without sacrificing justice on the case.

"We'll do it just as quick as we can. But again we want to ensure not only that case gets worked up like it needs to, the defense counsel has plenty of time to do what they need to do and then we'll a jury decide what needs to happen on the case."

Both men are charged with capital murder and will be tried separately.

Currently, a trial date has not been set. Powell says the next step is determining whether to seek the death penalty or not.

"That's another thing that kind of slows this process down because I want to know everything I can about each defendant before we make that decision," he said.

"We go back even as far as their elementary school days and get their elementary school records and work our way up. We want to know just as much as we possibly can about who we're dealing with in order to try and figure out what the appropriate punishment should be," Powell said.

Powell says once they decide the punishment, that will dictate schedule.

"If we chose not seek a death penalty, it will speed the process up. If we chose to seek the death penalty it's probably going slow it down even more because again there are certain things that have to happen on those cases because of the significance of them," he said.

Powell says they will make that determination soon and then set a trial date.

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