Day 18: Jurors hear closing arguments before heading into deliberation in Dixon re-trial

Day 18: Jurors hear closing arguments before heading into deliberation in Dixon re-trial
Dr. Thomas Dixon

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Day 18 of the re-trial of Amarillo doctor, Thomas Dixon, began Wednesday morning at the Lubbock County Courthouse.

Dixon is accused of hiring David Shepard to kill Lubbock doctor, Joseph Sonnier, in his home back in July of 2012.

It was a packed courtroom on Wednesday morning, at max capacity and the judge was not allowing any standing in the room during closing arguments. Family and friends of both Sonnier and Dixon crowded the courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney for Lubbock County, Sunshine Stanek began closing arguments for the state by outlining the two counts of capital murder Dixon is facing. However, the state is not seeking the death penalty this time.

Stanek spoke to the jury about the lies Dixon told detectives. According to detectives, Dixon says he did not know Richelle Shetina was dating Sonnier.

Stanek told jurors to use their "common sense and consider the whole ball of wax" when deliberating.

The state described the relationship between Dixon and Shepard as, "Shepard was the perfect pawn for this defendant."

Next, Dan Hurley for the defense began his closing argument.

Hurley reminded the jurors of all the evidence pointing to Shepard. He pled guilty in 2013 and was sentenced to life without parole, for Sonnier's murder.

Then, jurors were reminded about Paul Reynolds, Dixon's roommate during the time of Sonnier's murder, and that they have to decide if he was an accomplice of Shepard's, in the murder of the Lubbock doctor, by the defense.

"Dixon did not want Sonnier dead," Hurley tells the jury.

Hurley then told the about Dixon's accomplishments and because of that, many women wanted his attention. One of those women was Shetina. He then starts to recall the DNA evidence in the case, reminding the court that Dixon's DNA profile was excluded.

"Why would he [Dixon] ask his business partner to kill Sonnier when he had everything going for him?" Hurley asks the jury. "It just doesn't make sense. Why use a gun that would trace back to his brother? Doesn't make sense."

As Hurley ended his closing argument, he told jurors to push the buzzer if there were any questions.

He then referred to a picture of the Timothy Cole statue located on 19th St. and University Ave. Cole was wrongfully convicted for the rape of a Texas Tech student. He died in prison before he was exonerated for the crime.

Frank Sellers for the defense stood in front of the jury, showing them a picture of Shetina. Sellers told the court that Shetina called Dixon's children names and pressured him into committing to her while his divorce was pending. Looking at the photo of Shetina, Sellers tells the jury, "without her, none of us are here."

Then, Sellars recalled the lies Shepard told Dixon, saying that he had law enforcement experience and that he was meeting with doctors in Lubbock about their business.

The defense then, reminded the jury of Reynold's extensive training while he was a Green Beret in the Army and played his interview.

"Shepard's life was spinning out of control," Sellers told the court. "Paul coached him [Dixon]."

Then, the defense started to speak about the surveillance both Dixon and Shepard participated in. Sellers told the jury that Dixon is only guilty of criminal trespass. The court told the defense to wrap up their closing arguments and Sellars ended after telling the jury that trusting Shepard was the dumbest thing Dixon has ever done or will do.

Matthew Powell, the Lubbock County District Attorney, stood and began his closing argument.

"Is this Shetina's fault?" Powell asks the jury. "Without her, we wouldn't be here as Sellers said in his closing." He continued by asking, "Why do we have 50% of the texts? Because he [Dixon] destroyed them. Does a reasonable person delete messages, destroy evidence that could exonerate him?"

Powell told the court that Dixon says he gave Shepard cigars on July 10, 2012 because that was when they were ready. "What Dixon didn't know, because the cigars hadn't been opened, a humidor was supplied in the package," Powell says. In a visit with his daughter, Shepard tells her he got paid for "work" he did for Dixon, but would not go into what the work was, Powell said.

The state showed the court a timeline. The Lubbock Police Department went to Dixon's home on July 11, 2012 and the next day, there were calls and text messages exchanged between Dixon and Shepard. "Just a coincidence?" Powell asked the jury. He showed the security footage from a camera located in Dixon's office. The video shows Dixon and Shepard walking down a hallway, and Powell makes the comment, "come on puppy," as Shepard is seen following Dixon.

Powell described Dixon as being "completely obsessed" with Shetina. "Put the spotlight back where it belongs," he says. Before completing his closing arguments, Powell showed the jury a photo collage of Sonnier, while his family is in the front of the courtroom.

Dixon elected to be sentenced by the jury, if he is convicted.

Jurors could find Dixon guilty of the lesser charges of murder, manslaughter, burglary of a habitation or criminal trespass.

In the last trial, which took place last year, the jurors could not come up with an unanimous decision surrounding the death penalty, so it ended in a mistrial.

Now, after 17 days of testimony, the jurors will work to figure out if Dixon is guilty or not.

Click here for FULL COVERAGE of the Dixon previous trial and re-trial.

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