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Sonnier murder investigation continues, one year later

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One year ago on Thursday, a murder for hire plot shocked the medical communities in both Amarillo and Lubbock. A Lubbock doctor was found gunned down in his own home, officials believe, after an Amarillo doctor hired a man to kill him.

Even though the two suspects involved remain behind bars, they've yet to be in front of a judge.

It was only July 11, 2012 that Covenant's Chief Pathologist Dr. Joseph Sonnier was found dead in his Lubbock home. Police arrested prominent Amarillo plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Dixon and David Shepard for the murder after determining Dixon paid Shepard to kill Sonnier. That was less than a week after Sonnier's body was found but now, it's been an entire year and the two suspects still haven't been tried.

Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney and prosecutor for the case Matt Powell says they're still doing forensics testing on computers and some phones, and that takes time, sometimes up to a year.

"As crazy as that sounds, a year later, there's some of those things, some of the aspects of the case that just takes some time," said Powell. "Some of the DNA analysis, things like that."

However, the investigation is almost complete. But even then, the prosecution needs to determine a punishment before trial dates are set.

"For me to make a determination if we're going to seek the death penalty on those, that's another thing that's kind of slowed this process down," added Powell. "Because I want to know everything I can about each defendant before I make that decision."

Earlier this afternoon, NewsChannel 10 put in a call to Selden Hale, Dixon's defense attorney in Amarillo, to try to get a statement from him on where the defense stands one year later, but never received a call back.

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