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Family of slain West Texas doctor files lawsuit

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Thomas Michael Dixon and David Neal Shepard Thomas Michael Dixon and David Neal Shepard

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - The family of a West Texas doctor killed in what authorities describe as a murder-for-hire plot has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against two defendants.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports Friday the mother and sons of slain Lubbock pathologist Joseph Sonnier III are seeking damages from Amarillo plastic surgeon Thomas Michael Dixon and David Neal Shepard.

Anna Marie Sonnier of Shreveport, La., James Sonnier of Houston and Joseph Sonnier IV of Sherman Oaks, Calif., filed the suit last week.

Authorities contend Dixon hired Shepard because Sonnier was dating Dixon's ex-girlfriend. The 57-year-old Sonnier was found dead in his home in July from gunshot and stab wounds.

Investigators say Dixon paid Shepard using silver bars. They remain in custody at the Lubbock County jail, charged with capital murder.

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