Texas Plastic Surgeon is Accused of Paying $9,000 in Gold Bars for Killing of Love Rival

Plots about wealthy people planning the deaths of love rivals feature heavily in TV crime shows but are rare in real life.

Many homicides involve people who know each other and many are spontaneous rather than meticulously planned.

However a case in Lubbock, Texas in which a plastic surgeon is accused of paying an alleged hit man $9,000 to kill a doctor who was dating his ex-girlfriend, has made national headlines.

The payment was in three gold bars, each valued at about $3,000, say prosecutors.

Dr. Thomas Michael Dixon and David Neal Shepard were arrested by police in Amarillo in July, the Huffington Post reported. They are suspected of being involved in the death of Lubbock doctor Dr. Joseph Sonnier III.

“An arrest warrant affidavit suggests a love triangle between Dixon, Sonnier and a woman who was not identified by police,” the Huffington Post stated.

The affidavit claimed Dixon offered Shepard the three bars, each valued at $3,000, to kill Sonnier, who was the chief pathologist for Covenant Health System in Lubbock.

The 57-year-old pathologist was later discovered shot and stabbed inside his Lubbock home. A window was broken.

Sonnier’s girlfriend alluded to a love triangle. She told an investigator that Dixon, 48, was her ex-boyfriend but he “insisted on seeing her, even though she was dating Dr. Sonnier,” the affidavit stated.

Although it is fairly uncommon for powerful professionals to become involved in homicide cases, there have been some notable instances in Texas.

In January we reported on how a prominent Dallas plaintiff’s attorney recently pleaded guilty to murder. The lawyer, Scott Marshall, pleaded guilty on January 20, 2012, to murdering Staci Michelle Montgomery, the ex-wife of Marshall’s former law partner Bady Sassin. Marshall received a 40-year prison sentence.

Most murder charges involve individuals who know each other and often raise questions of self-defense. Also common are charges of intoxication manslaughter.

Because the stakes are so high in a murder case, it’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Mick Mickelsen is a nationally recognized criminal trial attorney with more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with white-collar crimes, drug offenses, sex crimes, murder, and other serious state and federal offenses.