Prosecutors Appeal to Court to Restore Dr. Dixon’s Conviction
On Tuesday, Lubbock prosecutors filed an appellate brief before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals which said that Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon of Lubbock was properly convicted of capital murder.
Prosecutors also say that Dixon should serve a life sentence with no parole.
KAMC News reports that a jury had found that Dixon allegedly paid a hitman to murder Dr. Joseph Sonnier back in 2012 as the result of a love triangle. The hitman, David Shepard, pleaded guilty to capital murder and received a life sentence.
The Seventh Court of Appeals in Amarillo reversed Dixon's conviction back in December of 2018 because they claimed a magistrate's order for phone records wasn't enough and that prosecutors should've obtained an actual search warrant. Plus, they claim the trial violated Dixon's 6th Amendment right to a public trial by closing off public access due to the courtroom being full.
The opinion leaves one wondering what a trial court is supposed to do, having already moved the trial to the largest courtroom in the courthouse and still unable to accommodate all of the potential spectators. Is a packed courtroom not public? Should trial courts statewide now have to consider renting out auditoriums or stadiums for trial proceedings lest not one potential spectator be excluded? What about highly publicized trials in small counties far less equipped than Lubbock County to seat hundreds of people, press, and supporters? How should those counties reconcile the court of appeals opinion with a courtroom that seats only a few dozen people? This Court should correct the court of appeals reasoning and apply the realistic, common-sense approach to the Sixth Amendment analysis applied by the rest of the country.
Dixon is currently free on a $2 million bond while his conviction is set aside.