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tv   2020  ABC  March 8, 2019 9:00pm-11:01pm PST

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since i was a little kid i would see older couples dancing. every step was perfect. they were one. ♪ he was a wonderful dancer. he introduced himself to me, my name is joseph. >> my dad went, i think, on a lark to a dance class. he got the mojo back like that. >> 49, 50 years old. smoking hot. looked younger than she was. >> next day she was like i'm in love with my dance partner. i was like really? >> i think he had an obsession. he either wanted her to suffer
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or he wanted her back. >> oh, no. >> ma'am, what is going on? >> there are police cars everywhere. there's crime scene tape all around. it was absolute chaos. >> it was an in and out job. a hit. >> who would be out to get this man? >> is there somebody watching the doctor? >> to me it had to be an exgirlfriend or something. >> this is the oldest story in the book. this is revenge. this is pride. >> this once convicted master mind of a killer is back on the streets. >> i cannot believe they did this. let's go [ bleep ] get these guys. ♪ >> lubbock is on the high plains. when you fly in on an airplane,
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you can't help but notice the crop circles all around. >> lubbock is a blue-collar town. it's also a college town. >> we get a lot of visitors from all over the world who live and die for buddy holly and just want to come and see where the music was made. ♪ going faster than a roller coaster ♪ >> but the great thing about it is if you look west on any given night, the sunsets are absolutely to die for. it's god's wonderful painting dumped on all of us for our enjoyment every day. >> you can't see better sunsets and sunrises and thunderstorms and everything else coming in. it's the people that drive it. there's no better people probably anywhere in the world. >> one of those people who embodied the spirit of lubbock is dr. joseph sonnier. >> dr. joseph sonnier was a successful businessman, multimillionaire. >> good-looking guy, sharp dresser, likes to have a good
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time. i think this is probably a guy that a lot of ladies would have their eye on in a hurry. and he was okay with that. >> he was a single man in his late 40s with disposable income and an empty house. >> he's living the single life and having a fun time. >> so it wasn't about getting married. >> i don't think he would have gotten married again. >> he never did the whole dating scene in college. he was married at 19. he married his high school sweetheart. ♪ find the kind of love that people write about ♪ >> we all loved becky. >> my dad was the most supportive person in my life. my mom was our emotional support. >> merry christmas. >> he was the one who was going to push us to you can seed, push
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us to follow our dreams. >> joseph and becky broke up when after 27 years of marriage, becky left him for another man. >> she was the only person that he had ever been with and ever dated and ever fallen in love with. when they got divorced it was a shock to him. >> everything he'd worked for in his life was evaporated in one second. >> becky remarried. shockingly, her second husband murdered her and then killed himself. >> it was just completely unfathomable. i mean unimaginable. my dad, he came in after she was murdered and he became, like, our guide about how to handle this tragedy. >> so, dr. sonnier is 48 years old. he's single. he wants to do something new
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with his life. he doesn't know what, but he wants to live. and he takes a chance. >> he went, i think, on a lark to a dance class. ballroom and salsa and swing and things like that. and within this dance community he found his confidence again. >> as an added benefit, he started to meet beautiful single women who were also in his age range. >> so that's how he was able to start dating again. >> and he got his mojo back just like that. >> so how did you feel about the women that he dated? >> the truth is, we liked most of them. >> the sonnier children have a tradition with their dad. they all go to a texas tech game every fall together. but one year, dr. sonnier brings someone new. >> she's blonde. she's tall. she's gorgeous. >> it's a first date and he's bringing you around his family
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which is -- that's nerve-wracking for some people. >> i mean, it was a first date. it really wasn't a big deal to me. i certainly wasn't nervous about it. >> richelle shetina is a 52-year-old single mom with four boys. >> she knew how to handle herself in a social situation around his sons who were tough critics, you know. and we gave her a thumbs up. >> i thought that she was a very nice, lovely person. i think my dad and her seemed to have a really good time together. >> richelle and dr. sonnier traveled to california to visit dr. sonnier's grandchildren, and that seemed to make her very happy. >> we had a great time. she came over to the house. we played with my kids. it couldn't have gone better. >> it seemed like a good match. they got along really well.
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he seemed to be having fun and he was starting his life anew. >> she was stunning. she kept in shape. i think they had an incredible sexual relationship. i think that they were very much enjoying each other. >> so he was smitten. >> he was. >> dr. sonnier, he may have been a little cautious about, you know, jumping to marriage right away. >> it was constant pressure every step of the way following the l.a. trip. >> in your mind, he was never going to put a ring on it. >> that's right. >> some of the sonnier kids have said that their dad told them that you were pressuring him for marriage. >> right, and i've heard that as well. all i can say is there was never a discussion about marriage. >> so when they say "she was pressuring dad to marry me," that's not true. >> that's not true.
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what i was looking for was a committed relationship with a good person and that was it. that was absolutely it. >> dr. sonnier, for richelle's 50th birthday, decided to take her on a really big adventure to paris, the city of lights, where, you know, love is everywhere. >> i told him to sit her down and have a direct conversation with her that paris is not an engagement trip, and that he is not going there to buy her a ring. and he said, "do i really need to do that?" and i said, "yes." >> it was a birthday gift for my 50th birthday. and i was -- i was just over the moon. you know, it was really a dream come true. >> you guys put a lock on a bridge. >> it was a love lock. joseph wrote his name on it and i wrote my name on it. >> that's romantic. >> it's very romantic. >> what do you think about when you think about that moment?
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>> that moment --it was -- it was very, very special. it locked in that love that we felt at that moment, for me. the tradition is you write your names on the locks and you put it on the bridge and you throw the key into the seine river. that locks in the moment forever. >> richelle talked about that moment on the paris bridge, as if their love would last forever. but a few weeks later, the unthinkable happened. >> police were first alerted to something terribly awry having happened at dr. sonnier's home when a landscaper that he had for s home called 911. >> evil followed me straight to joseph's door.
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in the back and the doctor did not show up for work today. >> on a hot july morning, joseph sonnier was found dead in his home. >> oh, no! oh, god! >> ma'am? ma'am, what's going on? >> his landscaper found him shot and stabbed multiple times. >> there's a bullet that was laying on the ground! i need somebody to hurry! >> yes, ma'am. >> zach johnson, a homicide detective with the lubbock police heads to the scene. dr. sonnier's neighborhood, what kinds of crimes would typically happen there? >> in my experience it's been residential burglaries, prowler calls, suspicious persons. stuff of that nature. >> it's not murders. >> not murders. not violent crime at all. >> this neighborhood had to be freaked out by this killing. >> they were. they were very scared. because this doesn't happen, especially to somebody that's so esteemed.
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>> when i first covered this case, detective johnson took me to the crime scene. as soon as zach johnson walked in to the house, he knew immediately that this was not a robbery gone bad. >> there was artwork in the home. there were very expensive pieces of furniture. there was ipads, all kinds of things, just kinda laying around. you know? nothing was taken. it was an in-and-out job. >> whoever came in this house came in to kill the doctor. in the dining room is an initial scene where you have the windows pushed in and you have a trail of blood. >> and that crime scene was very succinct. it wasn't spread out. you had the overturned chair. you had the glass on the floor, and you had the casings. so, you knew that he was shot right here. >> the investigators see a gatorade bottle and a shell casing with a hole blown out of the gatorade bottle, suggesting somebody came up with the idea of a crude silencer, which i can tell you doesn't really work. >> we were dealing with something that was a hit, you know, of sorts. that somebody had come to this
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house to kill this person specifically. to me it was just mind-boggling. you know, why is this man dead? he's a well-respected citizen in this community. why is he dead? >> the sonnier children were devastated. i mean, first, their mother is murdered. then, their father is murdered. this just doesn't happen. >> it doesn't happen. forget about the coincidence of it all. the statistical likelihood that both parents would be murdered on separate occasions is unfathomable. >> i got the call the day before the two-year anniversary of my mother's death. i thought maybe it had something to do with her death. that's how out of left field and completely out of nowhere this was. >> we started racking our brains. well, it's gotta be some type of girlfriend situation. if it's not a robbery, it's somebody he knows. >> his housekeeper, fran, called me.
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she said that something was going on at joseph's house. the police were there and they wanted me to come down. >> when something like this happens, the first person police talk to is the closest loved one and that would be richelle shetina. >> i was in shock. i was devastated. >> meeting with richelle that very first time, i don't know a lot about her. in the very beginning you always have to consider people the closest. because 90% of the time it's going to be the people that are closest to our victims that commit the crime against them. >> how would you describe your relationship with dr. sonnier? >> he's the love of my life. >> there were a couple of things that were mentioned by her that struck me as odd. >> richelle shetina had felt a little uneasy in the previous
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weeks before the murder took place, that someone was watching her. maybe she was being followed. something didn't seem quite right. >> i had gone in to work out, and i pulled into the parking lot. there was this big, creepy-looking guy sitting there. he was at the door, like, he was looking for someone or watching someone. >> it gives the -- you know, the investigators another, sort of, perspective as is there some sort of surveillance or somebody that's actually watching the doctor and richelle? >> it was dark outside, and joseph and i both saw a flash from the outside. we laughed and kind of joked about, you know, maybe somebody was following us. >> right from the beginning, richelle's attitude is pointing the fingers at all kinds of people. she starts offering a laundry list of potential candidates. >> there's just, you know, some girls that he dated. joseph would get these horrible text messages, you know? calling him a [ bleep ]. you know, you're such a
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[ bleep ] and whatever. >> reporter: richelle starts telling johnson about different ex-girlfriends in joseph sonnier's life as people who could possibly hold a grudge against him. >> i got a letter in my mailbox and it was from this girl who said that she met joseph on the internet and that they had sex for money, basically. and he said, "you know, this is obviously someone trying to drive a wedge in between us." >> was there a sense of who might be trying to drive a wedge between the two of you? >> to me it was, like -- it had to be, like, an ex-girlfriend or something. >> but johnson has an idea that maybe someone in richelle's past that has it in for dr. sonnier. >> so there could be somebody that you think we need to look at? >> a couple of people. >> okay. tell me about one of them. >> dr. thomas michael dixon. he's a plastic surgeon in
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amarillo. >> hello. i'm dr. mike dixon. if you're considering surgery -- >> he had a med spa in amarillo. and i went there to get botox injections. >> what attracted you to him? >> he was funny. he was very witty. you know, he was enjoyable. if it can be enjoyable to have somebody put needles in your face, you know, i guess that's about as enjoyable as it could be. >> richelle and mike dixon had dated for about a year and a half, and then they broke up. and then, richelle started dating again, soon after, seeing joseph sonnier. >> did he know about your current relationship? >> he knew i was dating joseph. he called him by name in a series of text messages trying to get me to go out with him, to meet him for coffee. >> so he wanted you to see him on the side basically? >> he wanted me to come back to him. i told him no.
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>> but the real question is, was dixon the kind of man to take no for an answer? johnson wants to know what dixon knows. so he jumps in his car and drives two hours to amarillo, texas to talk to mike dixon, secretly recording him when they start talking. >> hi, i hate to come bugging you at your house at all hours of the night -- >> what's going on? >> well, we've had a homicide in lubbock, texas, today. i told him it was richelle's boyfriend. and his first thing was, oh, well, i don't know anything about him. >> i don't know anything about him. i haven't talked to her in months and months. >> zach johnson knows someone is lying. the question is "who is lying?"
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i've got a guy that is dead in his house. it looks like a burglary. there's nothing stolen. one of the things that we're trying to establish is, okay, why is doctor sonnier dead? the crime scene pretty much is a little disorganized. and there was evidence at the crime scene that suggested it was a hit. i'm not dealing with a professional hitman. so we have to figure out, okay, what's going on in this man's life? we talked to richelle. all of a sudden we may have a reason why it all kind of came together, and he was murdered. >> richelle, having told detective johnson about her former boyfriend immediately sent up red flags. was there somebody else, part of this whole craziness? >> he's dr. thomas michael dixon. he's a plastic surgeon in amarillo.
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>> hello. i'm dr. mike dixon. >> so you have this information from richelle, could've been mike dixon. >> so i'm still trying to figure out what's going on. and i knew, well, we're gonna get a little bit more insight into this thing, we talk to doctor dixon. well, we've had a homicide in lubbock, texas, today -- i told him it was richelle's boyfriend. and his first thing was, "oh, well, i don't know anything about him." >> i don't know anything about him. i haven't talked to her in months and months. >> and i was like, okay, well, that's a little odd. because in our interview with richelle she told us that he knew about the relationship. >> i'll be honest with you. i loved, loved, loved that woman. i really did. >> he was obsessed with richelle. he was having a lot of problems getting over this breakup. he just couldn't seem to let her go. >> i really had fallen head over heels. in fact, made a lot of life changes for her. >> we've learned that he's already had a divorce as a result of this affair with richelle, but he's not quite
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over her yet. you know, i've learned that he -- he still loves her. he's got a lot of feelings for her. he's very upfront about, "yeah, i wanted her back." >> there probably was a very close relationship there between mike dixon and richelle shetina. they grew apart because mike wasn't interested in marriage. >> richelle seemed to think that at one point dr. dixon was probably going to propose to her and there was a build-up leading to her birthday. and she thought it was coming and maybe there's a ring. and instead, it's a subscription to the tea-of-the-month club. >> and she went ballistic, and said it isn't -- i remember it clearly. "it's not a big [ bleep ] rock." i said, "no, it's not." like, a wedding ring. >> when dixon talked to police he talked about how he gave you this tea of the month club birthday gift and it really, really angered you. >> it wasn't about the fact that it was tea. tea is lovely. i don't happen to drink it. it wasn't the gift that upset me. he could've shown up at my doorstep and given me a hug and said, "happy birthday.
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i'm so glad to be here with you today," and i would've been the happiest girl the world. he was not present in any emotionally supportive aspect of my world. >> despite the breakup between dixon and richelle, they stayed in contact with each other. they texted. they went to dinners together, and they even planned a weekend getaway. >> she was like, "hey, do you want to put this back together?" i was like, "yeah." i did. "let's plan a trip," blah, blah, blah. >> they had agreed to go on a trip. all she had to do was go up there. >> the next day, she's like, "hey, sorry. i'm in love with my dance partner." >> okay. >> i was like, "really?" >> boom! she drops the hammer on him, and says, "oh, by the way i'm in love with my dance partner." >> some would say, well, you're throwing it in his face a little bit. >> well, no. i wasn't throwing it in his face. there was, you know, an ugliness from him to me.
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it's, like, you know what, if you want to ha a getaway, enjoy it. go. enjoy your getaway. i don't wanna be a part of it. >> after richelle ended the relationship with dr. dixon, he started dating a medical student who was a couple of decades his junior. >> this young medical student, ashley woolbert, actually happened to be his alibi because they were having sushi the night of the murder at a restaurant in amarillo. >> what has he told you about richelle? >> just that she was his exgirlfriend and that she was really pretty and they dated. him and his wife were separated when they started dating. >> johnson is just stumped. the alibis of mike dixon, of richelle, and of dr. sonnier's exgirlfriends'they all check out. there's still the stalker that richelle thinks is following her.
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this big, burly man that richelle saw in the backyard. >> there's something not right here, but that's all that i have. this is a huge whodunit. >> what was it that broke this case wide open for you? >> when paul reynolds called the police department. >> my name is paul reynolds, and i think we've got a crime that happened down here in lubbock. it's a homicide. >> who is paul reynolds? >> believe it or not, there are good people in the world and paul reynolds is one of them. he was scared. >> paul reynolds is an aspiring nurse who's fallen on hard times. he's crashing on the couch of his friend in amarillo, who tries to commit suicide by cutting his wrists and taking pills. then that friend starts talking about murder. >> i'm staying with this friend of mine. he said he went down there. he said he shot the guy. >> what is your roommate's name? >> his name is dave shepard, s-h-e-p-a-r-d. >> that was a name detective johnson had heard before.
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>> we have dr. mike dixon. we have paul reynolds. we have dave shepard. >> he's quick-witted, i'm kind of sassy [ bleep ]. >> a picture is starting to emerge. how could they possibly be related to the murder of dr. sonnier? more than half of our community have discovered their irish roots. order ancestrydna, and find the surprises in you. just $59 through march 18th. get your kit today. cheddar, jalapeno, and sour cream and onion... the spicy nacho stack. i wish i could stack pringles, but i don't have hands. or a mouth to... cool, play funkytown. (funkytown playing) there's a pringles stack for everyone... sort of.
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♪ ♪ detective zach johnson has just gotn his biggest lead in the murder of joseph sonnier. that suspect's name is dave shepard, the divorced father of three, unemployed salesman with a criminal record. that was a name that detective johnson had heard before when was talking to mike dixon's girlfriend, ashley woolbert. >> he id that dave was gonna come over 'cause he had some cigars for dave from bermuda he was going to give him. >> he's just a common criminal. you know, i don't know how to put it any other way. >> david shepard has a very long list of people that he's wronged
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over the years. >> david shepard had been convicted of stealing $30,000 from a business that he was involved in. >> dad didn't have money. dad wasn't good at keeping money. i was 17 working part-time after school, and he borrowed money from me. >> as the police look into the background of dave shepard they quickly learn that his new best friend is dr. mike dixon, the former boyfriend of richelle. >> these two were an odd couple. i mean, you've got the down and out conman and the respected doctor. but they did have something in common. >> shepard was going through a divorce. dr. dixon was going through a divorce. that relationship formed over the shared experience. >> this entire situation began, as police found out, when these two men, mike dixon and dave shepard, bonded over cigars and martinis.
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>> dad wanted to be mike. buy the nice house that's right outside of town. in the canyon it's all private -- like, the whole nine yards. mike had it all. >> and he would always promise us, "one day i'm gonna get you these things, and we're gonna live in the big house. and you're all gonna have your own rooms, and you get to paint it however you want. you get whatever you want." and he wanted that, and mike had it. >> so he wanted to live the dream life of this wildly successful person, it sounds like, but was he willing to do the work to be that person? >> no. >> and paul reynolds had been living with shepard for a few weeks. so he gives police insights into who this guy is as well. >> personally i think he's just got super low self-esteem. i think he's just out there trying to find anybody that will convince him that he's something. >> detectives are beginning to believe that mike dixon found the perfect person to help him get back with richelle.
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>> i'll be honest with you, i loved, loved, loved that woman. >> and if not get back with her, disrupt her new love life. >> something happened between these two that made dave think that he needed to avenge mike. and, apparently, dixon was not only going along with it, but he was going to pay him to do it. >> in the minds of investigators, dixon, they think, is a puppet-master, and shepard, the puppet. >> it's around this time that police learn that dave shepard recently had a financial windfall. >> dad had money out of the blue, and he didn't ever have money. >> we asked, "how do you have money?" he said, "i'm doing some work for mike, and he paid me early." >> with the hotline tip from reynolds linking shepard to sonnier's murder, and with the recent evidence that dixon made a payment to shepard, zach johnson's investigation kicks
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into high gear. >> and so we move on to arrest warrants. >> who do you bring in first? >> we went and we brought in david first. he goes, "i want my attorney." >> dr. dixon do you have anything you want to say? >> dr. dixon comes in, and of course, he's madder than a hornet. >> i mean, i'm under arrest at 2:15 in the morning. >> you're under arrest, correct. this is probably your only opportunity to tell me what happened. >> i want an attorney then. >> shepard and dixon are both arrested and each is held on a $10 million bond. neither one of them talks until the investigators offer shepard a deal. >> for three months he stays silent. finally they say to shepard, "if you confess to this murder and you do it on tape, we will in turn take the death penalty off the table." >> it was real important for us and the sonnier family to figure out what happened. and so it answered a lot of
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questions for a lot of people. >> what do you want me to call you? dave? david? >> that'd be fine, sir. >> what he tells us is pretty chilling because it's very cold. this whole thing was like this stair step. we knew where it stopped, it stopped with the murder, but it had been building for months. >> tell me about y'all's relationship, how it evolved. >> two or three years ago, we were at a smoke shop. he's quick-witted. i'm kind of sassy smart [ bleep ]. and we just kinda hit it off. smoking cigars is a very sociable thing. and we just connected and hooked up. >> when was the first time that he ever mentioned to you this richelle shetina? >> my best estimate is september, october. she's around 49, 50 years old, smoking hot, looks younger than she was, thought she was great. he pretty much wanted to break up dr. sonnier and richelle.
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>> they had this book. >> yes. >> the complete book of dirty tricks. that they were trying to execute on, on dr. sonnier. >> what were some of the things they came up with? >> they were gonna get this porn subscription, like child, gay porn. and they were gonna send it to dr. sonnier's office. >> i gave him one suggestion to go to an adult bookstore and buy the most obscene, nastiest, man/boy love association book he could and buy him a subscription and send it to his office. because i said, "that's a gift that'll keep giving." >> they were thinking that was going to ruin his reputation, his professional reputation. >> he asked me if i knew of a girl in lubbock that would mind -- wouldn't mind making a thousand dollars to cause a problem. he was asking me if i knew somebody that would pretend to be, like, a sugar baby of dr. sonnier. >> i think mike would have been embarrassed to tell me he was doing that. because he knows i would've told
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him quit being a dummy. you know, this is ridiculous. you're -- why are you wasting this time? >> he said, "we have to follow him." he goes, "let's take a little trip to lubbock." we drove down to lubbock. he was already trying to tell me where they go and that kinda stuff. >> pretty soon dave shepard is taking trips to lubbock on his own. and police? well they think that's at the direction of mike dixon. >> and he paid for everything -- paid for my gas, paid for my meals. >> and so when you went to his house, tell me about getting out and actually going back there to do the recon. >> don't know exactly the first time i'd done it. entered the backyard. opened the gate. took a picture. closed the gate and left. >> it looked like a camera flash. and we kind of shrugged our shoulders and said, "that was weird." >> did you ever ask michael dixon, "what are we doing?
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what's the next course of action?" >> we were at a club in amarillo. somebody volunteered, they said, "hit him with a board." i said, "you could probably kill him." doc went like that. "we'll talk about that later." >> so they're having drinks one night. and so far, it's been nothing more than casual pranks. but they're talking about what comes next. you've got to out do what you did the last time. and now, the talk turns to something a little bit more sinister. >> what he says about the last moments of dr. sonnier's life would surprise even investigators.
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♪ ♪ okay. you want a break? are you all right? >> if you need a bathroom break -- >> let me walk just a second. >> that's fine. >> when you have a suspect literally provide you in a very straightforward manner -- >> he was saying, "well, i'd just like to cause him some problems." >> -- a play by play, frame by frame -- >> he said, "we have to follow him." >> -- of a crime that's occurred from the very beginning. how could this get any better? >> david shepard is singing like a canary, implicates dr. dixon in the plot, said he had to get even with this guy for basically taking his girl away.
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>> he pretty much wanted to break up dr. sonnier and richelle. >> shepard tells police that while they're drinking the whiskey and sharing the cigars, they are now in the midst of developing a plot to actually commit murder, the murder of dr. sonnier. >> he wanted him hurt and then it gradually developed into having him killed. i asked him, "you sure you want to do this, mike?" i said, "if you were -- when you kill somebody, that'll affect you for the rest of your life. you'll have nightmares. it'll bother you." and he goes, "doesn't bother me." >> they plan, and they plan, and for months, and months, and months. >> as this plan developed between mike and me, the plan was laid out. the best way to carry forth his objective was to stake out in his backyard, wait for him to come home. >> let's talk about the actual day that this this happened. >> yes, sir. i believe it was a tuesday.
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>> tuesday, july 10th. >> today in lubbock, cooler temps that will dip into the upper 70s and lower 80s. >> shepard makes the drive from amarillo to lubbock, texas, about a two and a half hour drive, and gets to joseph sonnier's house at around 4:00. >> hugged the fence down the alley and entered his backyard. pulled the chair from his outdoor dining table. he has a curbed, brick fence by his driveway. on the west side, there's a tree by that fence. and i'd sit underneath there. >> and were you still having contact with michael dixon during that time? mike was encouraging, "keep the faith. be patient, be patient, he'll be there eventually." >> for dave shepard, the only person he can trust and go to with any issue in this case is dr. dixon. >> in dr. dixon's mind, shepard's the perfect guy to carry out this mission because dixon's like the boss. he's the pronent physician and shepard is essentially a loser and the patsy's ready to do whatever he's told. >> and he's waiting for two and a half hours, and the guy falls asleep.
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>> he's awoken by the sound of someone knocking on the window from the inside and it's none other than dr. joseph sonnier. >> i wave at dr. sonnier and get up. i walk to the window. he's lowered the window about this far from the top down. >> what happens at that point? >> i point the weapon with the bottle at him, discharge it several times. after three or four discharges, he's backing away. he trips on his feet and falls to the ground. >> shepard admitted that that he used a gatorade bottle to try and muffle the sound of the gunshot and that he had learned that technique by watching a movie that starred steven seagal. >> so i push in the window and crawl in.
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go around the corner. as i turn around down the hallway, right into the garage, he's laying on the floor, not moving, not breathing, nothing. i check his pulse in his neck. he's dead. >> and what happens? >> i pulled the knife out of my bag and i stuck him in the vital organs, two or three, four times. >> i find that bizarre. it's like he's so determined to make this right for whatever his relationship might be with dixon, that he wants to complete the task. >> according to shepard, after he kills dr. sonnier, he then drives back to amarillo. >> so did you recount for michael dixon the events? >> yes, sir. he was happy about it. he was fine with it.
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he said "it sounds like you got away clean." >> and the very next day he's caught on camera having a meal with mike dixon. >> shepard told police that dixon became extremely rattled by the fact that detectives had come over to talk to him about the death of dr. sonnier. >> he was nervous. he said i had to get out of town. >> dixon recommended that david shepard get the heck out of which would in dr. dixon's mind keep him from being investigated by lubbock police. >> but david shepard seems to be overcome by what has happened and maybe his role in this. he attempts suicide, cuts his wrists. >> if you can imagine the disgust that you can feel with yourself after being involved with what i did. then i pulled out a filet knife and tried to cut myself. it's bleeding like a stuck pig. >> the first person he calls after that, mike dixon.
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>> dixon and shepard are caught on surveillance video again heading into mike dixon's office where mike dixon stitches him up. >> dave shepard has basically given you a roadmap as to what happened, and you see how he directly ties dixon into planning this murder. you now clearly have built a case against dr. dixon. >> two suspects are in custody in connection with the murder of a lubbock physician. >> one doctor's dead and two are under arrest. >> police arrested dr. thomas dixon and david shephard both from amarillo. >> dr. sonnier was found shot and stabbed in his living room. >> i cannot believe that they did this. it makes me so angry. a lowlife scum and a piece of [ bleep ] doctor. >> like it or not, mike dixon is an evil man. and david shepard is an evil man. >> it seemed like a slam dunk
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for prosecutors. they had the man who admitted to killing dr. joseph sonnier as a witness. as they say in west texas, everybody thought that this case was done and dusted. >> but is the case against mike dixon too good to be true? you got to remember, the prosecution's star witness is dave shepard. i mean this is a guy with a history as a conman and a swindler. >> shepard is known for telling all kinds of tall tales. >> dave shepard is a con artist of the ultimate magnitude. >> the prosecution painted mike dixon as this puppeteer. >> if he was that manipulative, this was the dumbest planned murder in the history of the united states. to choose dave shepard? >> what he ends up doing in the courtroom just turns this case upside down. >> he made jaws drop in that courtroom. >> this is the kind of moment that you typically see in a movie. >> the case is going to blow up
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>> this is the oldest story in the book. this is revenge. this is pride. >> so there was some kind of triangle going on. >> he knew i was dating joseph. he wanted me to come back to him. i told him no. >> what did they have on this prominent doctor? maybe he was in love. maybe he was in lust. did that make him a killer? >> these two men, it's a very strange bromance. think of the goofiest buddy film you can. here's these two guys. >> dad wanted to be mike. mike had it all. >> once dave got in that chair and started speaking, he made
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jaws drop. >> this once master mind killer, he's out on the streets. >> we think the case is closed? not even. ♪ ♪ >> it's october 2014 and you can feel that fall chill starting to roll into texas, but in the lubbock county courthouse things are starting to heat up. >> anything to say dr. dixon? >> this is likely one of the biggest murder trials that this city has seen in a long, long time. >> the gallery was packed. everybody was there to see how this trial was going to go. >> dr. mike dixon. >> accused of hired a hit man. >> friend and business partner. >> this case is nothing short or surreal. first you have the victim, dr. joseph sonnier, a very prominent pathologist. then you have another prominent physician, dr. mike dixon and
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he's accused of placing a hit on dr. sonnier. in the middle of all of it you have a beautiful blonde named richelle shetina. >> going after someone i loved would hurt me and that's what he was going to do. he wanted to hurt me as badly as he could. >> i think mike dixon had an obsession with richelle shetina based on the evidence. i don't think there's any doubt about that and ultimately that cost dr. sonnier his life. >> i promise i will be totally compliant, won't cause any problems. >> dave shepard is sort of the oddball friend of dr. dixon, and he tells police that mike dixon paid him in advance to do the hit. >> he wanted him hurt and then it gradually developed into having him killed. >> i think mike dixon controlled the situation. i think david shepard was the perfect patsy. i think he loved the lifestyle that dr. dixon could give him. i think he likes the expensive
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cigars and expensive scotch and everything else that came with being a buddy of mike dixon. >> many people make the argument that mike dixon never laid a hand on dr. sonnier. >> he's just controlling the knife. dave shepard's just another instrument for mike dixon. >> what was your mindset going into that trial? >> let's go [ bleep ] get these guys. we knew they had the right guys. in my mind, there was no other possibility. >> there's always two sides to these kinds of cases. and on the other side, you have andrew dixon, mike dixon's son, who has a very different view of this case. >> he, was a good dad. he did dad things, you know? kind of american dream kind of stuff. go camp and hike and play baseball and football and all those things. >> they're trying to prove him guilty, ya know, and he's fighting for his life. i mean it's just terrifying and so sickening. >> i've known mike dixon for
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25 years. he's as solid as they come. there was no intent to kill. i know that with all my heart. he's harmless. >> but in courtroom 72 of the lubbock county courthouse, the prosecution paints a far different picture of mike dixon. >> somebody who was arrogant. somebody using shepard as a pawn to keep up with richelle and dr. sonnier's relationship and goodness knows what else. >> this is the oldest story in the book. this is vengeance. this is revenge. this is pride. >> one of the biggest pieces of evidence that lubbock prosecutors used against dixon was this .22 caliber pistol which david shepard told police that he used to shoot dr. sonnier. >> prosecutors presented evidence that the gun that was used to kill dr. sonnier was given to him by doctor dixon. circumstantial evidence, pretty strong stuff. >> david shepherd tells us that he told dixon, "i don't have a gun." and dixon says, "don't worry about that, i have that covered.
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i have the gun." he says, "it belongs to my brother. he gave it to me and it's clean." >> police divers were seen pulling something from the lake, shepherd was on hand to point police to areas in the lake to search. >> he said he'd thrown the gun into a lake in amarillo behind dr. dixon's office. >> also, prosecutors have a wealth of text messages between shepard and dixon when shepard was stalking shetina and sonnier. >> when he was arrested, the swat guys told me he had actually jumped into a swimming pool and tried to ruin the phone. the problem was the man had plugged the phone in and backed it up to his computer. so all of the stuff that he thought was not going to get him in trouble buzz backed was back computer. >> prosecutors here are saying that they found text messages from dixon to shepard urging shepard to kill. we're talking text messages like "go get 'em," "whip and spur," "get r done," and "put it on him." >> if you look at the text
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messages, "put it on him," you know those types of things. there wasn't any doubt in my mind, you know, what they were talking about. >> a real eyebrow raiser is how the payoff supposedly happened to the alleged hit man here. three silver bars and a box of cigars. it's hard to find a good cuban cigar but the silver bars are worth some $9,000. >> according to prosecutors one of which was sold to this pawn shop in amarillo, texas before the murder and two after the murder sold by none other than dave shepard. >> what was he like? do you remember any of his affect? >> he was a pretty good size guy. he seemed just like a normal guy to me. i didn't notice anything different about him. >> in terms of demeanor he didn't strike you in one way or another it sounds like? >> no, not at all. >> so he sold you something just like this. it's heavy. >> yeah, very similar. >> he leaves. a couple days later he is on the front page of the paper.
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>> right, yeah it was. i was pretty much in shock. i mean, i was blown away. >> all the evidence the prosecutors have against mike dixon is strong but their primary piece of their case is dave shepard. >> he pleaded guilty for a life sentence with no opportunity for parole. >> and so after the death penalty was taken off the table, that's when dave shepard agreed to testify against his old drinking buddy, mike dixon. >> it seemed like a slam dunk for prosecutors. they had the man who admitted to killing dr. joseph sonnier as a witness. >> he had a chance to get up there, confirm his story, point to that guy as the person who paid him to kill my dad, and end it all. >> but what he ends up doing is an absolutely shock to the prosecutors and to the family of the victim. >> the star witness was about to blow up in the prosecution's face.
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♪ ♪ shocking testimony in the capital murder trial of thomas dixon. >> the prosecution case against dixon was very strong. >> you've got a payoff to an alleged him man. you've got a murder weapon. the circumstantial case here seems to have a lot of elements that would favor the prosecution. >> everything that the prosecution laid on the table was countered by the defense, including shepard's access to the gun. >> see, the defense claimed shepard stole the gun from mike dixon's house, and
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frank sellers, one of the defense attorneys, showed me where he thought shepard stole that gun from. >> they came in here and they're picking out cigars to smoke and shepard opens this door here, and it's a gun. >> so that's how shepard knew a gun was in that drawer. >> exactly. >> the defense team admits, hey, the silver bars changed hands but this wasn't to payoff some murder-for-hire scheme. this was the seed money for some new business collaboration between the two. >> did mike dixon ever pay david shepard in silvers and cigars to kill dr. joseph sonnier? >> absolutely not. >> the defense said that the surveilling that david shepard was doing was really only to get pictures of dr. sonnier out with other women so that he could show them to richelle and say, "this guy is cheating on you." >> shepard's reporting back, "oh, i couldn't find him. and i think mike became frustrated with it and it's evident from the messages that he was sending. >> so then "go get him" and
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"whip and spur"? go get who? >> use of lots of texas panhandle colloquialisms, like, "get her done, put it on him, go get him." he had a history of using that language with lots of different people. >> and the reason they say mike dixon was so upset was they felt richelle shetina was trying to throw the relationship with joseph sonnier in mike dixon's face. >> in court, the defense pointed to texts between shetina and dixon when she backed out of that planned vacation. she texts. i'm in love. enjoy your get away. when dixon asked who's the lucky guy? she replies new dance partner. >> and so mike was just -- his ego was deeply bruised. and he wanted to show richelle that she was wrong. >> so from your perspective, it was about mike dixon and his ego? >> right.
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>> the defense grilled you about those text messages. >> oh, yeah. they absolutely did. they did. text messages that i hadn't seen in years. it came out of the blue. it was crazy. >> anything in this that you regret from those text messages? >> to mike dixon? no. no. >> anything you wish you would've said differently? >> i suppose. if i went through each individual text message, yeah, maybe. >> mike is morally responsible for david shepard being down here. but not for the purpose of killing dr. sonnier. mike dixon never wanted that to happen. >> defense attorneys were really eager to make it clear that shepard decided to become rogue. even though dixon wanted him to surveil dr. sonnier and richelle, he just decided on his own to go down and kill this man. >> but there's one big problem with that theory. remember, back when shepard was talking to police, he said mike dixon asked him to kill dr. joseph sonnier. >> i asked him, "you sure you
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want to do this, mike?" i said, "if you were -- when you kill somebody, that'll affect you for the rest of your life. you'll have nightmares. it'll bother you." and he goes, "doesn't bother me." >> when you saw the interview the police did with him, were you thinking, slam dunk, we got him? >> i don't know if i've every thought something's a slam dunk. if you watch dave shepard on that interview, he's calm, he's relaxed, he's telling things that flow very naturally. we certainly believed it because it matched up to physical evidence. >> without shepard, you've got suspicion. you've got circumstantial evidence. but he's the one who can bring it all together. >> matt powell calls david shepard to the witness stand. and the jury is about to hear --
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at least powell thinks -- that dixon set him up to go down and paid him to kill sonnier. >> shepard not only had to face the jury, but he had to face the victim's family, and his three daughters, rachel, abigail, and haley. they weren't there to support their father. >> you were in that courtroom to get closure? >> we were there more in support of the sonnier family. >> right. >> our heart was broken for them. >> and do you think that mike dixon paid your father to kill dr. sonnier? >> yes. >> there wasn't a single seat in the courtroom. >> it was the moment many had been waiting for. >> once dave shepard got in that chair and started speaking, he made jaws drop in that courtroom. >> this bombshell drops. shepard takes the stand and says, "no, i did it at my own choosing. i'm the one who decided to go kill dr. sonnier." it just flipped the whole trial on its head. >> this is the kind of moment that you typically see in a movie where the star witness suddenly decides i'm not going
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to testify against him. that stuff doesn't typically happen in real courtrooms. >> it was definitely easy to see why district attorney matt powell seemed frustrated. >> you begin to question him. what happens? >> well, he completely digressed from what his statement was to law enforcement in the fact that mike dixon didn't have any involvement in this deal. >> what's going through your mind? >> okay. game on. we impeached him with his prior statements. i mean where he's laying out in great detail what mike dixon did. >> when he got up there on the witness stand and created that circus, i've never hated anyone more than i've hated him in my entire life. >> the question now is, how much damage did this full-on reversal do the prosecution's case? more importantly what did it do to the jury? >> when he got on the stand and changed his entire story, it just kind of threw me for a loop. er of 1-2-3 medicines with trelegy. the only fda-approved 3-in-1 copd treatment. ♪ trelegy. the power of 1-2-3
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the air has just been sucked out of courtroom 72 in a lubbock courthouse. a bomb has been dropped. david shepard was supposed to take the stand and say that dr. dixon ordered him to kill dr. sonnier. instead, shepard took all the blame for the murder and insisted that dixon had nothing to do with it. >> david shepard's daughters were embarrassed, angry and incredulous that their father would not finger dr. dixon as the man who hired him. >> it was cowardly.
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>> he has a chance to make it right and he completely ruined it. >> why do you think he did that? >> he was trying to help out his buddy. >> they took it upon themselves to go to the children of dr. sonnier and apologize for what their father had just said on the stand. >> what did you say to them? >> we are so sorry for what he has done to you, and what he's continuing to do to you. >> the three daughters, we have a mutual understanding, a mutual respect, mutual sadness. we all know what happened. they knew from day one. they couldn't believe what their dad had done. and i couldn't believe he put them in that situation. >> so after david shepard is taken back to jail, his three daughters go to talk to him and confront him about, "what the heck did you just do?" they were emotional. they were upset. >> but daddy, you didn't tell the truth. >> i did. >> you didn't say anything. you just kept saying that you wouldn't tell them.
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>> but i did. >> no part of this is right. none of it will ever be right. >> there's nothing i could do. >> no matter what you do. >> they think i'm some kind of a monster. >> you've made yourself a monster, dad. >> you were literally breaking down in tears. >> it was frustrating. i felt like i was scolding a child. like, i just want you to answer my question, and then you can go back to time out. >> the question now is how much damage did this full on reversal on the part of dave shepard do to the prosecution's case? more importantly, what did it do to the jury? >> nobody knew how that might affect the verdict. everybody's on edge. >> it was still sort of anyone's guess what the verdict would be. >> but the damage was done. >> thomas dixon was accused of hiring a man to murder -- >> years of work ending with a hung jury and a mistrial for dr. thomas dixon -- >> if shepard's goal was to free
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his friend, it worked. >> the judge says, "mr. dixon, you are free to go." everybody is stunned. stunned. >> it was devastating. i mean, i had a moment of just -- just silence. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't think. >> do you think he was the biggest factor to getting that hung jury? >> absolutely, 100%. >> justice is a guilty verdict. and, when that didn't happen, i feel disappointed. i feel like i've let the family down. i feel like i've let our team down. i feel like i've let everybody down. >> you have to ask the question, how could the prosecutors have let this happen? the prosecutors have to bear some responsibility for calling a witness to the stand, star witness, who does a complete 180 in front of the jury. >> so before the trial, how many times did you get to speak to him? >> i talked to him one time. i really don't spend a whole lot of time with witnesses, you know, getting them prepared and things like that.
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>> in hindsight, do you wish that that could have been done differently? >> i don't know if there was a way to do that differently. we had no indication he wasn't gonna tell the truth. >> i was upset with the jury. how could they not see, you know? the evidence, to me, was very, very clear that he was guilty. he did this. >> and that was the big question at that point. what did the jury think of this? >> when he got on the stand and changed his entire story, it just kind of threw me for a loop at first. >> the prosecutor's face got red and veins were popping out of his neck. >> matt powell was livid, but he was able to recover because he already had a videotape of shepard confessing to the crime. he showed that to the jury and that was enough to convince some of the jurors. >> the video of dave shepard's confession was a revelation i thought.
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>> shepard's just pretty much giving us all the information right there. >> it really tied together a lot of the facts we had heard in testimony. and so there was little doubt in my mind at that point of guilty for me. during our deliberations, we had two jurors that were not able to really come to the same place that we were. i felt how do they have any doubts when the evidence was all there in my eyes? >> but it only took two of the jurors disagreeing to make this a mistrial. >> those two jurors had never talked, publically, before about why they voted the way they did, until now. >> so good to see you. >> almost five years. >> i know. can you believe it? >> i knew what we had signed up for, and i did not take any of it lightly. >> i felt like it was my job to go in there and look at everything. >> we did see the video testimony of dave shepherd.
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and for that to be in such stark contrast of what his in-court testimony was raised a lot of red flags for me. >> the problem is that the judge specifically said to the jurors, you can use this video, but only for the purpose of determining whether this witness is telling the truth. not as substantive evidence to convict. for these two jurors, they apparently felt there just wasn't enough without it. >> i never felt like he was pushing him to kill. i felt like he was pushing him to take photographs. >> there were a couple text messages that matt powell had mentioned like, "whip and spur" and "get her done." >> yeah, get her done. >> and i think that the effort there was to make those sound a little bit more malicious than they actually were. >> i always thought that, yes, he probably did give him silver bars, but that doesn't mean he
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gave him silver bars for murdering somebody. >> i just feel like that we had so many people from the time we were supposed to make our decision, and there was no discussion. they said he was guilty, and they weren't gonna talk about it. >> it's frustrating, especially those of us who had our stand and how we believed. and for all that, it seemed like for nothing. >> after the trial was over, there was still that question. why did david shepard go back on his deal and completely burn the prosecution? >> to get that answer, i went to a maximum security prison where dave shepard was serving a life sentence to sit down face to face with the man who murdered joseph sonnier. >> you said that mike dixon was a part of this. >> right. >> why did you tell them that? than dishes? re using multiple cleaners on grease can be expensive,
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after david shepard's flip-flip in court, everybody wanted to know why. why did he change his story? i went to a maximum-security prison in west texas, where dave shepard was serving a life sentence, and i sat down face to face with him. this is a mountain of a man.
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i mean, he's got to be 6'7", 6'8", maybe 300 pounds. he is intimidating. how're you doing david? >> i put myself in a bad position, and i've got no one to blame but myself, and i don't blame anyone but myself. >> i asked him point blank, right off the bat, what happened inside that house? his claim, it wasn't a cold-blooded killing. it was a tragic accident. >> i'm in his backyard. he knocks on the window, and i waved, i waved at him. i said, "i'm showing you some stuff." he goes, "oh, all right." i lift stuff up, and then the world went -- things got out of hand. unintentionally, gun fired. i'm leaning in to see if he's okay. i fall in the window, and then, he's getting up, and going around. i'm running around to see what's going on. i said, "dr. sonnier, are you alright?" i don't hear anything.
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go in the garage. he's laying prone. i hear his last breath. i reach down. there's no pulse. >> did you stab him? >> i did stab him a couple of times. i can't reconcile the number that the prosecution says. eleven, i think they've said. i had dr. sonnier's phone in my hand, and i considered dialing 911 just to call the authorities, and i didn't. and i put it back in. mutilated his bodily remains, and tried to cover it and make it up look like something else. >> do you consider yourself a cold-blooded killer? >> no, absolutely not. an idiot, you know? careless. i mean but, no. no. >> remember, in david shepherd's interview with police, he told them that when he notified dr. dixon that he in fact carried out the murder of dr. sonnier, dr. dixon was very pleased to hear the news. >> he was happy about it. he was fine with it. >> i said, "mike, things didn't go how i'd hoped." and he goes, "what are you talking about?" and then i broke the news to him. and he's like "so are you
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telling me" -- i said, i said, "mike, i'm just telling you what happened." i said, "almost called the police. i should have, and i didn't. i'm thinking now i should have, and i didn't." and he goes, "we'll just have to see what happens." he goes, "i don't know. i don't know." >> but why wouldn't he have shared all that with police, who were then coming by his house talking to him? hey, he didn't even mention your name. >> you'll have to ask -- well, probably to keep me out of that situation so they wouldn't even know about me. i don't know, you'll have to ask dr. dixon what his thinking is. >> but what shepard had told me was totally at odds with what he told police. he told police that dixon told him, "i want you to kill sonnier." >> he wanted him hurt, and then it gradually developed into having him killed. >> did mike dixon ever ask you to kill dr. joseph sonnier? >> no, absolutely not. absolutely not. >> when the police interrogated you, you said that mike dixon was a part of this. >> right. >> why did you tell them that? >> i embellished.
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i felt that's what i had to do because i already had an agreement with mr. matt powell, who was the d.a., to get rid of the death penalty. >> so in your mind, you made up the story that mike dixon was involved to get the death penalty off the table. >> yeah. >> shepard said that mike dixon told him just to keep tabs on richelle and joseph, just to take pictures, follow him around, and see what they were up to. why'd you help him with this? >> seems kind of silly, looking back. i didn't want to offend anybody. i don't want to hurt anybody, and i sometimes have a hard time saying no, i guess. >> there were all these text messages that mike dixon was sending to you. "go get them, whip and spur." so those text messages were referring to -- >> i would assume, staying on target, so you can get a picture of him with another girl besides richelle. i didn't mean to kill dr. sonnier. i have nothing against dr. sonnier or his family, or richelle shetina. i have nothing against any of them. i really don't. >> what would you say to them right now if they were watching? >> i'd tell them that i'm very sorry. i took your loved one.
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>> you get on the stand. you see mike dixon there. you see your family there. you change your story. what was that moment like for you? >> it was antagonizing. it was very hard. >> your daughters told us that they were so upset, that this was your chance to get up there and to tell the truth, and that in their mind you lied. >> yes. >> how does that make you feel? >> pretty bad. they know me. they should know when i'm telling the truth and when i'm not. and i was telling the truth on the stand. >> do you miss them? >> oh, every day. i'm sorry. >> the damage is done. there's not anything that's going to repair our relationship. there's nothing that can fix it, or make it right even if he were to get out. >> do you think your dad should spend the rest of his life in prison? >> yes.
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>> absolutely, yes. >> we have absolutely, you know, accepted it, and proven that we can move on, and we can be better, and we can absolutely overcome it, and be stronger because of it. >> despite what happened with david shepard's extraordinary turnaround, the prosecution was not about to give up. one year later, they're back in court, ready to try dr. dixon one more time. >> matt powell, without blinking, he says, "we are going to get this guy. we are going to do this again. don't you worry. i've got you." and that's all i needed to hear. >> amarillo dr. michael dixon is back on trial for capital murder. >> when the witness list comes out for the second trial, david shepard's name is not to be found, but on the list is his daughter haley. >> the number one most important
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thing from this second trial was the unbelievably courageous testimony of haley shepard. >> but what haley would say about just a simple steak dinner would turn this case on its head. what did you say on the stand? that's an understatement. you just never stop going. but you know how to beat busy... ...show busy who's boss. that's why at kohl's, we give to the go, we respect the routine, and we reward the everyday. every. single. day. kohl's. that we just hit the motherlode of soft-serve ice cream? i got cones, anybody wants one! oh, yeah! get ya some!
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from panda express. ♪ ♪ amarillo doctor michael dixon is back on trial for capital murder. thomas dixon back in a lubbock courtroom preparing for his second trial. >> well today officials announce the start of the second trial. >> everybody thought going into the first trial that prosecutors had a pretty rock solid case. second trial, everybody was wondering what is the
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prosecution going to do this time around to make it so they get a conviction. >> our strategy was basically we're going to let the facts do the talking. we're gonna show you what happened. we're gonna show you the relationship between these two folks. and we're gonna convince you that mike dixon was running this show and that he orchestrated this whole thing. >> david shepard had no reason to kill my dad, if it wasn't for mike dixon. >> in a retrial prosecutors can take any mistakes that they made in the first case, try to refine it, try to change it and present a often stronger case in the second trial. >> clearly they were not going to take any chances with david shepard's testimony this time. and lo and behold, who comes up but his daughter, who has information that could prove very damaging to dr. dixon's case.
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>> that was his chance to make it right with them and he threw it away. >> the number one most important thing from this second trial was the unbelievably courageous testimony of haley shepard. >> haley shepard testified and her testimony was extremely important in that fact that she basically described her dad for everybody. >> she told jurors that her father took herself and her two sisters out to dinner at a pretty decent steakhouse and had all sorts of gifts for them, and she found that very suspicious. >> he bought haley a phone. he bought a new grill. he bought tires. he never had that much money ever. >> we all remember this same exact moment at dinner. we all asked him, "how do you have money?" and his words were, "i did some work for mike." >> "well, what'd you do?" >> he wouldn't tell us. >> "don't worry about it. i just did some work for mike.
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don't worry about it." >> the sonnier family has some hope that that testimony was the game changer that didn't exist in the first trial. >> the defense had its own star witness in mike dixon himself, but having the defendant testify is always a risk. >> it's a lot of times a defense attorney's nightmare. the prosecution sees that as red meat. >> now the jury gets to hear from the man who's in the fight for his life and his freedom at this point. >> our strategy was to show that there was a reason that mike dixon was asking david shepard to be at sonnier's house and to follow him. if the jury only has the text messages, without any explanation about what they were about, it's over. mike needed to say, "i was wrong. i'm morally responsible.
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if i hadn't have asked david to get these pictures, maybe it wouldn't happen. i did not intend for joseph sonnier to die. i didn't ask shepard to kill him." part of the decision in whether to call a defendant to the witness stand is not just the substance of what he's going to say, but how is he going to say it? what's his demeanor like? are the jurors going to like him or not? those are all relevant factors. >> we learn from jurors that they didn't like mike dixon, not necessarily his testimony, they didn't like him. >> i thought he was his worst witness. i'll admit the longer he was on the stand the harder he was to believe. >> he had an ego that was larger than life. anytime he starts talking about whether something is morally right or wrong i knew at that
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point i could not believe what he -- what he was testifying to. >> the jury, they seem to appreciate haley's testimony. >> shepard's daughter, that was tough to sit and watch her have to go through this. >> but they did what you would hope jurors would do. it wasn't one thing. they looked at all the evidence. >> and you could tell dixon was running the show. i mean there was no doubt when you go through the evidence that he was -- as mr. powell stated, he was driving the school bus. >> this time around the jury did not take very long and there were no hold-outs. in just a handful of hours, they were back with a verdict. >> and my hand was shaking like this. >> the verdict is in. >> unanimous verdict. >> guilty on two charges. >> at first you're thinking i didn't hear that right.
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there's no way. it's not real. it's like a nightmare. >> i'm disappointed in the justice system. i always thought they were supposed to be the good guys. >> after a few minutes i had to turn to my wife and i had to say, "he -- he said guilty, right? he said guilty?" we've been waiting for that moment for over three years. >> i cried. i cried. i burst into tears. i was so relieved. >> when you look at the photos of him -- smug smile. when you look at his mugshot from his arrest -- smug smile. and it was so great to be able to know that we finally wiped that smile off his face. and i think he'll disappear into the prison system for the rest of his life. we'll never hear from him again. >> the jury's does its job. the prosecution wins, and there's at least some peace of mind, for the family of dr. sonnier, knowing that justice was served. case closed? not even close.
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after his 2015 conviction for the murder of joe sonnier, michael dixon is serving his life prison sentence at the allred maximum security prison. >> you would think in this case that justice has been served. but has it? >> thomas michael dixon gets a new trial. >> just when all of us think this case is finished, the 7th court of appeals, in amarillo, overturns the conviction. >> people were floored. they were like, this is unbelievable. >> the defense listed something like 50 issues on appeal. and they succeeded on two of them -- >> so the cell phone tower location information that was used in dixon's trial was deemed inadmissible because it was obtained without a warrant. >> and that the judge had closed the courtroom at times that he shouldn't have. >> these are really big deals.
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do law enforcement get to just go grab anything they want from our personal livesand invade our privacy without probable cause to do so? >> and the other matter is we don't have secret trials where we get to expel the public from the courtroom for whatever reason. >> the circuit court of appeals in amarillo reversed dixon's conviction. >> he starts with a clean slate. he's presumed innocent. so we start over from scratch. >> he's now out of prison living in the amarillo area. >> the second big bombshell is this convicted man is now out of prison. his bond reduced from $10 million to $2 million. >> he was thrilled. he was really delighted and hopes to finally achieve his vindication. >> he's doing good. his spirits are high. he got to see his grandson for the first time. >> he wears an ankle monitor. they keep an eye on him and he has to let him know where he's going and what he's doing. he can go all around amarillo and do daily activities.
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if he needs to go to walmart, he can certainly do that. >> there's a gag order which prevents family members from talking about this case. but you can understand why the sonnier family would be furious. >> in their mind, the man who ordered the hit on their dad, now he's walking free. >> mike dixon and his family are victims, too. it's horrible that they're having to go through this over and over again, till they can get a fair trial. >> they had a rush to judgement on mike. stop that train and do what's right. find justice, not just a conviction. >> the new lubbock county district attorney she's filed her own petition to get the conviction put back in place. but if that's rejected, we're going to trial number three. >> mike dixon is free right now. andrew dixon has his dad. on the other hand, his life is once again hanging in the balance as he faces another trial. he could end up right back in prison.
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>> the loss of such a dear and decent man is a tragedy beyond words. this whole thing is nothing but darkness and evil. to be at the center of all of that is horrible. >> it wasn't a love triangle. it was -- richelle was telling mike how great a person sonnier was and that's how all this snowballed into a horrible tragedy. >> i challenge each one of us to focus on what he left behind and the man who touched us all. >> i thank the lord for every moment that we had with joe. >> my son was born after my father was murdered. he will never know my father. it's heartbreaking. and it's also a challenge to make sure that my son knows what kinda man my father was. and that i pass on that legacy.
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>> it's amazing the things that people will do for nothing. look how many lives have been destroyed by this, over nothing.
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