Medical examiner says Sonnier stabbed 11 times in the back
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Testimony continued Wednesday in the murder trial of Amarillo plastic surgeon Thomas Dixon.
Dixon is accused of hiring David Shepard to kill former Covenant Chief Pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier III in July 2012.
Shepard has already pleaded guilty to killing Dr. Sonnier and is currently serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Testimony began Wednesday morning with the prosecution calling Dr. Sridhar Natarajan from the Lubbock County Medical Examiner's office.
As he testified, photos of Sonnier's body were shown to the court.
Dr. Natarajan described each injury he discovered on Sonnier and described the significance of each injury.
The court was shown the outline of a man's body and the injured area was highlighted. Next to that figure was a zoomed-in picture of the injury on Sonnier's body.
Sonnier's two sons were visibly upset while these photos were shown, and spent much of the testimony looking away from the screen.
Dr. Natrajan testified that five bullets were recovered from Sonnier's body, along with multiple bullet fragments. He said Sonnier had a graze wound where another bullet hit.
Dr. Natarajan talked about one bullet wound in particular that hit Sonnier's right arm, near his armpit, and fractured a bone and another bullet that went through his right arm and into his chest cavity.
He also testified that Sonnier was stabbed 11 times in the back.
The first stab wound was in Sonnier's neck and was three inches deep.
The rest were spread out over his back with the 11th on his lower back.
Dr. Natarajan testified that Sonnier was alive when he was stabbed, and wasn't killed until the 6th and 7th stab wounds.
He testified that blood evidence near Sonnier's head and in the stab wounds at the scene proved that to be true.
He ruled that the type of death was a homicide and the cause of death was multiple gunshot and stab wounds.
After Dr. Natarajan stepped off the witness stand, the state rested in this case.
Immediately after, the defense began calling witnesses.
They recalled Detective Paige Fletcher with the Lubbock Police Department who stepped off the witness stand after a few minutes to review evidence.
The next witness called by the defense was Trish Hale, a woman who used to date Dr. Sonnier. She testified without the jury present about her relationship with Sonnier and specifically his sex life. She said that he would have numerous women over to his house and even when he was dating Richelle Shetina, called Hale to come over when Shetina was out of town.
Court recessed just after 4 p.m. It will resume Thursday morning.
We will continue to provide live updates throughout the day as the trial continues. Follow us on Twitter @KCBD11 and look for all of the latest updates on KCBD.com.
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