David Shepard pleaded guilty in the murder of Covenant's Chief Pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier on Thursday. Sentencing will take place in two weeks.
This plea will allow him to avoid a trial that could have led to the death penalty.
Shepard walked into the quiet courtroom, sat down, and signed necessary paperwork. The 140th District Court Judge Jim Bob Darnell had Shepard approach the bench and asked him a series of questions. The judge said the plea recommends a sentence of life with no parole.
July marked the 1-year anniversary of the murder. Sonnier was fatally shot in his home in the 4600 block of 21st street on July 10, 2012.
Authorities have also charged Amarillo Plastic Surgeon Dr. Thomas Dixon with 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.
Dixon's trial is still pending, but his lawyer, Daniel Hurley, offered a statement.
"I would just have one comment, that it's a sad day for justice in Lubbock County. It appears that Mr. David Shepard has successfully duped and deceived the DA's office into this plea bargain. It's a sad day."
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