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I'm Lester Holt.


Tonight on Dateline, a new twist in a Texas mystery. Did one man's obsession lead to another man's death?


And what's going on? I don't know. I got a phone call. They said your father was found killed in his home. Jealousy and rage, and that's what we have here, some kind of. All go, I'll be honest with you, I love, love, love that one gives him a silver bar as an advance in the baggage of. Her gloves, a knife. There's always that lingering doubt. Are you going to solve this? This is remarkably still not over.


Still not over. He had no idea that he was in any danger. I hate that feeling.


I hate knowing that. Here's Andrea Canning with Lone Star obsession. This mainstage denies memories of a family man, a dancing girl, a doctor.


He is the most intelligent person that I know, a lover.


He would look at me and he would say, how did I ever find you a good man?


He was the ultimate support system for everybody in his life, finally savoring life's rewards until he found himself in the crosshairs of someone's obsession.


There's tons of gossip and innuendo, especially in a small town in west Texas. I mean, the story on its own is so sensational. July 11th, 2012, a warm summer afternoon in Lubbock, Texas.


Landscaper's Becky Sherbert and Nathan Gilmore were getting down to work outside this spacious home.


The owner, Dr. Joe Sunni, was the chief pathologist at a local hospital. As they walked around the yard, someone pulled up to the house.


There was a girl from Dr. Sarnies lab and she was concerned that Dr. Sanjay had not shown up odd because it was a weekday and they assumed the doctor wasn't home.


I mean, I certainly don't know his work schedule, but I know him as a person. He would not be late. So we we all walked to the front and I was thinking maybe he was sick and I was concerned and we rang the doorbell and we couldn't get anyone to answer. So the three of them, the landscapers and the woman from the doctors lab went around to the back, the back of the house is all windows, and I thought maybe I could knock on his window and just make sure he was OK.


When I got to the back, one whole section of windows had been just laid over in the house. They peered inside and there was a Gatorade bottle, which was kind of a strange thing, and you could tell something terrible had happened. So the young lady behind us merely went in and I went after her.


That's when Nathan found a shell casing on the floor and Becky called nine one one nine one one emergency.


Somebody has broken a window in the back and the doctor did not show up for work today. It was a bullet and it was laying on the ground. OK, what was an actual bullier had already been fired? I don't know. I didn't pick it up. Somebody else went home and walked in. I'm not here. I'm not I'm not going in.


Nathan and the woman from the lab continued searching through the home and she starts looking in the rooms. And it's a big home. And it seemed like it took forever to go through that whole. They searched further and eventually made their way to the garage, and that's where they found Dr. Joe Soneji sprawled out in a pool of blood.


And I can remember his face lying. And she automatically started crying and. She say his name, Dr. Sanjay. She knew that he had passed. Nathan returned to the backyard to his co-worker, Becky. His face told her everything. She was still on the phone with 911.


One is a hero. She can tell us what's going on and what's going on. I don't know.


Detective Zach Johnson was sent to the scene. What was your reaction when you heard the address of the murder?


I was a little surprised. I knew that we were going into an affluent neighborhood. We were going into a very low crime neighborhood.


An officer at the house briefed him when he arrived. And I was told we have a deceased person in the garage of the home. We don't know exactly how long they've been there. There is blood coming out from underneath the body in the blood had actually traveled from underneath this body all the way underneath the garage door and the garage door was closed. Dr. Sonis body was riddled with bullets and stab wounds. What happened?


The first guess was an easy one. It could have been a botched burglary.


You know, your first instinct is, man, somebody broke into this house in this affluent neighborhood, probably to take some things of great value. And they were surprised by the homeowner, but not in this case.


There were no signs of any body going through, looking for things to try to take in the way that that house was set up. I mean, you could look in there through that window. I mean, and if you were like a burglar, you would be. Oh, yeah, this is a big score.


And all of those wonderful pieces of artwork and items were still in place, hadn't even been touched.


The detective moved through the house trying to imagine what happened. I just walked up and visualized the point of entry. And from where I was at, I could see that the window was pushed in. There was no broken glass, which is very curious to me.


Johnson also noticed an overturned chair near the dining room table. A glass tumbler was spilled liquid and those shell casings on the floor. And there was a thought that maybe he had been at that table fixing a drink or something. And he may have been surprised. Bloodstains were found in the hallway to the garage. It appeared the doctor tried to get away from his attacker and there was something peculiar about that Gatorade bottle found on the floor. The bottom of it is blown out.


And for the Gatorade bottle to be blown out like that, I just made the determination that it was possibly a silencer because we did have bullet casings in that immediate area. How many times had Dr. Sanjay been shot? He had been shot five times. And how many times had he been stabbed? Eleven.


What did that tell you right there? A shooting is very hands off, but a stabbing is very hands on. It's very personal in your face. And so you're dealing with a personal killing and a killer that had no problem with making sure that this person is dead. But who and why, Dr. Soniat.


Soon the detective would have a list of suspects. His grown children say that doctors seem like an unlikely target for a killer.


When we come back, there was nobody who could have wanted him dead and something almost unimaginable.


This was not the first murder in this family.


My mother was killed two years almost to the day before my dad was murdered. Dr. Joe Soneji was handsome, well-liked and successful.


Now his showcase home in Lubbock, Texas, was a crime scene. The doctor's body found in a pool of blood in his otherwise pristine garage. How big was this case here in Lubbock, Texas? It was probably the biggest high profile case in Lubbock in recent memory. Lubbock police notified his family, Missy Bartlett is his sister, Phillip Prestwood is a close family friend and Dallas. Is the doctor's oldest son.


How did you all get the terrible news out of what had happened? They said your father was found killed in his home. Can you please let your family know? And would you please come to Lubbock? We need to sit down with you and the family members and talk. And so we got our family together. We met in Lubbock the next day. They spoke with police when they arrived and learned the awful details of the murder. Do you think about his last moments that terrible they must have been to think about him lying there?


I hate that feeling. I hate that image. I hate knowing that report.


And adding to the pain, he was on the cusp of retirement age, spending time with with his grandkids, travel the world.


And it was just all taken away from him as he was stabbed on his garage floor.


Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance.


Happy Feet show. Sonia was a man of means by the time he was killed, but it wasn't always that way. We weren't poor, but just regular walk to school. He didn't have a car in high school, went to public schools. Public colleges did.


He expressed an interest in medicine? Yeah. From a young age, yes.


And when he grew up, Joe Sonia went to medical school, had a successful career and a marriage that gave him a beautiful family.


What was he like as a dad? He kind of had one rule.


If you made a house and you were a respectful person, that you really didn't have any other rules. And we had a blast. We had a blast.


Growing up, Philip Prestwood lived in the same neighborhood as the Sonis. He credits Joe with helping him turn his life around.


At one point, my life, my dad wasn't in the picture and I didn't adjust to that very well. He took me in as a son. And, you know, I started doing fine in school and acting like a grown up.


In 2001, Joe suffered a blow he never saw coming.


His wife left him for another man and it Florida, it knocked him down a wrong emotionally. And so he found himself in his late 40s, a single man with his three sons off to college and starting their adult lives.


And that's when Joe decided to make a change. He remade his image.


After the divorce, he picked up a hobby that turned into a passion, ballroom dancing. It was social challenging and he was good at it.


I think that's probably why he liked the ballroom scene, is because he was making friends quickly and that was good.


Trish Berlanga was Joe's dance teacher in 2004, but she stopped teaching him and began dating him. They were together off and on until 2011.


He was a gentleman through and through. He opened doors, pulled out your chair, put on your coat.


There's not a lot of men out there like that anymore. The true gentleman chivalry.


No, there's not. He was a total package. He really well, he was a gentleman in every way.


How big was dancing in your relationship? Wherever we went, we always danced, meaning that if we were in a store shopping, they always play music in stores and we would just break out into a dance right there in the middle of the store. And the salespeople loved it.


Dance remained a mainstay of Joe's social life. You can see him here in this video.


He loves to do every style of dance and I roll in.


Deborah Hollowell owned a venue dance studio in Lubbock. Joe became a regular dancing six nights a week, taking lessons and joining dance parties. He was good for business, she says.


It helped a lot more people would come out here and dance while he was here because people loved him. People loved being around him.


And then one day in 2011, after he broke up with Tresh Brossel, Chatenay walked in the door. Was 49 years old and a divorced mother of four. She and Joe hit it off right away.


They were extremely happy. Every time I saw them, they were smiling and laughing and joking around with each other.


They'd only been going out a few months when Joe put her to the ultimate test, the Meet My Kids date, my dad told us that he had been dating a new woman and he wanted to bring her over to a barbecue we were at.


I thought she was sophisticated. I thought she was kind. I thought she was lovely.


So they just kept getting more serious. Was it evident like it?


Yeah, they had been together for close to a year when Joe was savagely killed in his own home. Now, everyone in Joe's life was struggling to understand what happened, there was nobody who could have wanted him dead in his personal life of friends and relatives and neighbors and things like that.


This was devastating enough, but even more tragic. It was the second murder in this family.


The worst part was my mother was killed two years almost to the day before my dad was murdered. She had been killed by her second husband. Looking back on it, the phone calls from the two police departments for each of their deaths was so similar that I felt like it could have been the same phone call repeated twice.


As for Detective Johnson, he knew this would be no ordinary investigation. This was all hands on deck for this murder. Yes, ma'am. Detectives immediately began speaking with everyone close to Dr. Soniat, beginning with his girlfriend, Rachelle Chatenay. Coming up, was someone spying on the doctor and Rachelle, we were in the kitchen talking. It's dark outside, just so flash from the outside. And I said it looked to me like the camera flash when Dateline continues.


As Detective Johnson was surveying the crime scene, Rochelle Schettino, Dr. Joe Sonis girlfriend, arrived at his home. What's her demeanor? How she acting? She is distraught. She no makeup clothes like she had been doing housework like she had just got in her car and flew out to where we were. He asked Rochelle to come to the police station.


She was barely able to contain her tears as she spoke about Joe, his sweetheart, his beautiful dancer, and he was kind of hard to tell. How would you describe your relationship for Dr.. He's the love of my life. Detective Johnson asked Rochelle when she last saw or spoke to her boyfriend, she said Joe was supposed to call her the night before, but never did.


So she sent him a text.


It was it time for you to talk? And I just said, look, there you go. And then I didn't hear from him. So tell me, when the last contact you had with him was there was a phone conversation. We were texting yesterday afternoon and Rochelle also gave the detective other details she thought he should know. She said there had been some troubling incidents in the months before the murder. She believed someone was following her. One time she noticed a strange man in the parking lot of her gym.


There was this big, creepy looking guy. And you staring at the door like he was looking for someone or watching someone. And. And he gave me the creeps, he saw me, and then he picked up his phone and just started talking into it.


And later that night back at Joe's house, she said something odd happened in the backyard.


We were in the kitchen talking. It was dark outside and just and I saw flash from the outside. He said, did you did you see that? And I said, You mean that flash? And I said, it looked to me like the camera flash.


But the detective's key question for Rochelle was, could she think of anyone who might want her boyfriend dead?


She gave the detective several names, beginning with her ex ex-boyfriend, Thomas Michael Jackson, plastic surgeon and everyone. Mike was my boyfriend before I started seeing other. Where did you meet him? I had gone in to get some Botox injections. No matter what kind of a personality is. He is a very smart man. I'd say he has a I don't want to say temper because he doesn't really he's just a. You can be mean spirited. OK, can you kind of describe what you mean by mean spirited?


Well, we would get into an argument or something. He would turn it around. So everything was my fault. And I know that he blames me for our breakup.


They had been together about a year and a Half Men. It wasn't easy, she said.


It was volatile. It was up and down. And he was sweet when he thought he was going to be.


The crowning blow to the relationship was a birthday gift that fell flat.


There was a package of teeth. Sign me up for Tea of the month that had me on. It's really. You know, you could hand me something any way you thought that I was extremely ungrateful. Did he know about your current relationship? Did you express any feelings or anything? He knew that I was dating Joseph. You called him by name in a series of text messages trying to get me to go out with him. He said, I'm not asking you to stop seeing him.


I just want you to see me to give me a chance. And I told him that I didn't do that to him and I wasn't going to do it. So he wanted you to see him on the side, basically. So you clearly needed to talk to Mike Dixon. Yes. Is he your next stop? Yes, about 10, 30 at night on the 11th of July. We are knocking on Dr. Dixon's door. Coming up, I'll be honest with you, I love, love, love that one.


I really did. Did a broken heart lead to murder?


This is a huge whodunit for sure. Well, I didn't. Just hours after Joe Sonas body was discovered, detectives set out on a two hour drive to Amarillo to speak to Mike Dickson.


They arrived at his home at 10 30 that night. The meeting was recorded. What's going on? Well, we've had a homicide in Lubbock, Texas, today, and it involves a doctor that is well known to you and your ex-girlfriend, Rochelle. That is my ex-girlfriend. Yes, sir. Yeah.


Was he very accommodating? Did he want a lawyer or was it an easy thing happen? Yes, he was very nice.


He was in fact, he and I sat down in his living room. He offered us something to drink and had no problem with us coming into his house and talking with him.


Sort of shocked that I'm brought up in talking with people. We get pretty much a history of everything, OK, who they've been with and all that. And then we've got to run down names and all of that. Believe me, you're on a list of like eight million people. This is a huge whodunit for sure. Well, I didn't.


Johnson wanted to hear about Mike Dixon's relationship with Rochelle, and he was quite open about it.


I knew when I saw that I wanted to date it, I sort of felt that way. My problem was I was married. Oh, but that kind of gets in the way, doesn't it? I did. And we started an affair, OK? And I don't know, it was probably a year or so.


What was Michelle's opinion about you being married and dating her? She didn't seem to have a problem with it. OK, sure.


You said initially when when did you start taking an issue with it? Oh, well, I don't think she so much took a huge issue with that. I sort of took an issue with it.


OK, and how long did you and Michelle how long were you together? We were sort of on and off. We were we started dating, I guess, in February of 2010 and sort of on and off, dated, broke up, reconciled, broke up, reconciled.


He talked about the good times. She gave me attention.


She was affectionate. She was appreciative of the things I did for her for a long time in my marriage. I wasn't really feeling like I was appreciated. And he was a beautiful woman and appreciated.


And the ups and downs. Yeah, it was good.


It was great. When it was bad, it was argumentative.


Their relationship ended, he said, over more than that time of the month club gift.


I just got divorced. But she put a lot of pressure on me to get married just one day that Dixon seemed to have nothing to hide.


He readily admitted trying to woo Rochelle back after they broke up.


Now, at any point while she was dating Joseph, did you ever tell her, hey, it's cool that they do. I just want to date you two. You can kind of date any officer. I told her that in December when I was trying to get her back, OK? And she was like, no way. I don't want to do that. She said, no, I'm OK. And I could respect that.


He seemed to accept that it was over. He even had another girlfriend who was at the house when he was questioned. I'll be honest with you.


I love, love, love that woman. I really did. I really had fallen head over heels, in fact, make a lot of life changes for her. But just with allergies, why support?


Police wanted to know where had he been earlier that day, a Wednesday when Joe Sonia's body was discovered and where was he the day before? At that time, we didn't know exactly what time of death. We didn't know what happened. So the best information I had was that Dr. Sonia was murdered that day. And so where was he that day? And now, you know, give me the time 24 hours before. Can you recall that?


So Dixon told the detective where he was starting on Tuesday. I was in the operating room in the morning, OK?


When he finished, he said he had lunch with his girlfriend and they met up again later as well.


We met then for dinner last night and probably sixtyish went down. Where did you memorium Wade and Lemongrass after dinner, he said he went to his office for a while.


Then he and his girlfriend were at home from seven thirty on Wednesday, was similar.


I went to the operating room, did cases till, I don't know, maybe one or two o'clock, maybe two cases until then. Came back out here. I saw my dad play around.


That's about the time Joe Sonia's body had been found more than 100 miles away in Lubbock. It seemed as if Dixon was nowhere near the crime scene. Plus he was calm and cooperative. We photograph person to make sure he doesn't have any injuries.


Get a DNA sample from him. Do you have any injuries?


He had no injuries whatsoever on their way out. The detectives learned one other detail on Tuesday night after Dixon and his girlfriend got home from Dinner A.


Had stopped by the friend's name was David Shepard, Detective Johnson called him the next morning and the first thing out of his mouth is that, Detective, you are wasting your time looking at Dr. Dixon.


He's a very nice guy. He has nothing to do with this.


Sure enough, Shepard vouched for Dixon. Yes, he was at his house that night to pick up cigar's. His alibis checked out.


We had checked him out surgeries as where I was.


We went to the restaurant to see if we could obtain a receipt from them. And he had also said, I can even facture the receipt that I was at this particular restaurant on this day and time.


Are you thinking, OK, he's probably not involved?


Yes. I didn't have anything to tell us that he was involved.


A promising lead that went nowhere. Detective Johnson moved on. There were more people to investigate the women in Joe Sanghas life.


Coming up, did Joe's former dance instructor and girlfriend make a wrong step?


According to Rashelle, the relationship had not ended on a very good note. So this woman in Michelle's eyes was maybe looking for revenge.


Sure. When Dateline continues. We're show anything and everything you can tell us. Rochelle Chatenay had lots to tell Detective Johnson when they spoke that first night. She suggested he talked to her ex-boyfriend, but that didn't pan out. He had an alibi. Plus, he was a respected doctor who had never even met Joe. Now, the detective focused on some other possible leads Rochelle had mentioned. Months before Joe died, Rasha received a bizarre letter. It was from someone Rochelle had never heard of, a woman named Tina.


She met Joseph on the Internet and that they had sex for money, basically. And she and her daughter lived in this place. And Joseph hasn't been paid and she's going to lose her place. The money stopped, Tina's letter said, and she was angry. She trusted him because he said he was a doctor and that he said. This hurts him as much as he has hurt us. Joe adamantly denied knowing this person. They said, first of all, I've never paid for sex in my entire life.


And he said, you know, this is obviously someone trying to drive a wedge between us.


Joe also told his family about the letter. My dad's only reaction to that letter. Immediate reaction was that is not me. Take that letter to the police right now. He was serious because he was innocent of anything. That letter stated that letter was a farce.


The detective wanted to know more. The letter had been postmarked in Lubbock, but since the mysterious woman gave no last name, there wasn't much to go on. So Johnson turned to two other women who Rochelle thought might have a reason to harm Joe, they were less mysterious. They both had actually dated the doctor.


One was an old flame who couldn't get over their breakup so upset, she continually left messages, sometimes full of vulgarities on Joe's phone.


She has called and called and called to the point where he's had to hang it up or have to turn off the ring. And then Joseph would get these horrible text messages, you know, calling. You know, you're such a bitch and whatever, the next day it was like, hi, do you miss me? You know, the last time you received any communication from Rome wasn't that long ago.


So if I can't have them, no one can take. Investigators spoke to her and ruled her out. There was just nothing there at all.


What about that second ex-girlfriend who just said the person that you think could have done this? Rochelle told the detectives that relationship ended just before she met Joe and they had an on again off again relationship for about seven years.


She wasn't happy about that. She ever complained to you? She will not leave me alone. She kept calling and calling. And finally, I think about a month ago you talked to her and he said, I think we both need space and I think you just need to back off. And she she started crying and she said, I just wish we had another chance. And I don't know what else was said because I didn't want to. Ask too many questions, do you recall?


Yes, she expressed any violence or anger towards him or was it more but just please take me back. Take me back. What I got from justice was just please take me back. Take me. But I don't know. He would have told me he wouldn't have given that he would have wanted me to. According to Rashelle, the relationship had not ended on a very good note, so this woman in Rochelle's eyes was maybe looking for revenge. Sure, yeah, revenge.


Maybe she wanted to get back with him and he told her, no, I'm in love with Rochelle.


A lot of those were pretty, pretty credible reasons that we had to consider.


This woman was Trish Berlanga. You'll recall she was Jo's dance instructor before they started dating. Trish had already called police when she learned about the murder offering to help. What kind of questions are they asking you? Well, of course, where I was, did I want to see him dead? And, like, just really ridiculous questions, I thought. Did they ask you if you killed Joe?


Yes. Yes. They asked me point blank. What did you say? No, absolutely not. And according to Trish, what Rochelle told police about her never happened. Rochelle, so that you frequently reached out to Joe until he finally had to tell you it was over and essentially to stop, huh?


I have two phone conversations in 10 months and two text messages is a lot, I guess. I don't I don't see it that way. I was not begging him to come to get back together. I know he was with Russia. I don't go around to break people up, even if it's someone I love.


After speaking to Tresh, detectives knew they were looking at the wrong woman. We pushed her buttons, tried to get any kind of motive out of her for jealousy. And it was obvious that that woman was deeply in love with Dr. Sauniere. She never wished ill on him for a minute.


It was obvious to us that she had nothing to do with that murder, but.


But what about Rochelle? She seemed helpful, maybe too helpful. Police wondered if she could possibly be trying to deflect attention away from herself.


Rochelle is telling you all these things that she's being stalked, they're being stalked. Are you able to rule her out as a suspect?


Not at that very moment.


You've got to consider as an investigator, OK, she's given me three names and she's given me a lot of details about all these three people. Is this a misdirection or is this a legitimate.


I want to tell the police what I know at that point.


I don't have that luxury of not looking at her as a possible suspect.


Please state your name now, Michelle. OK, so the detective took a closer look at Rochelle's story. Remember the night before his body was found? She said Joe was supposed to call her at home but never did and he never answered her texts.


In my mind, this is the love of her life. But we don't go to the house.


We don't call anybody to go and check on him. To me, that was a little bit suspicious because I'm thinking, OK, well, are you not checking on him?


Because you know what they're going to find?


And when Johnson spoke to the family, he learned the relationship wasn't as perfect as it seemed. The issue marriage was.


He opened a marriage. Again, I don't think that he was looking for that. He was finding himself free to to explore the world, explore women. I don't think he wanted to settle down.


Was Rashelle content with just being boyfriend and girlfriend and just enjoying life based on what Joe told us repeatedly and how stressed out he was?


No, she was putting the clamps on him to get married.


All of this raised a red flag for police. Rochelle is on your radar. Yes, she is.


Coming up.


There's one rule in homicide. Somebody always knows something.


In this case, someone seemed to know everything relating the story for me about this thing that he did.


After Dr. Joe Sunis brutal murder, his family was inundated with sympathy from people all over Lubbock, people from Dance Covenant Hospital, strangers on the street would come up to us and tell us how much he meant to them.


Waiters at restaurants were coming up to us and telling us a story about when my dad used to eat there and how nice he was to them. And they remembered that.


Detectives, meanwhile, had interviewed several women who had been involved with Dr. Sonya, including his current girlfriend, Rochelle Satina.


Did she stay on your radar? Did she start to kind of fade away as a suspect?


She faded away once we gauged her and looked at her phone records, locations and involvement. There was just nothing there to connect her. They hit a dead end. You were essentially out of leads. Yes, we were. Did you think this is going to be a tough one to solve?


It was going to be a tough one to solve. But there's one rule in homicide, and it's somebody always knows something. The question is, are they going to come forward July 15th, four days after Joe's body was found, someone did. Police got a call from a man with a crazy tale, a tale that would lead investigators down a road no one could have imagined.


And relating the stories to me about this thing that he did and he said he shot American Special Forces, where the caller's name was Paul Reynolds, a former Green Beret who was a nursing assistant and still in his scrubs when he came to talk to police. Reynolds lived in Oregon but was in Texas staying with an old friend from high school. In the weeks before the murder, Reynolds noticed his friend was acting strange.


You know, he kind of started and which is weird talk and claimed that he had been to Grenada, you know, and done this special. You know, he was like, yeah, you know, I tell these people, these people died. And I believe yeah, I just thought he was just out there.


And the stories continued.


Well, then was oh, by the way, you know, when my mom died, I kind of helped her off my homework. And he's like, well, you know, I had some incidents, so I just gave her some extra and and she just died. Then it got worse, the friend tried to kill himself several times with sleeping pills, insulin, and he slit his wrist when he did the suicide attempt.


And it was, you know, I just I just don't want to be this bad, awful person anymore. I don't want to hurt people anymore. He's like I just thought all I think about is killing people. He's like, I just want to kill people. And he started telling me, I have this list of 40, 50 people. And that's when he told Reynolds that he shot a doctor in Lubbock, he was waiting for him in his backyard.


On this day, he said he was sitting there or something and that the guy, his doctor knocked on this window or somehow the two connected. I don't know what happened. And he just got up. He had this gun and he shot the guy. And then he said something about pushing in a window. He said he just went right through the window. I was like, OK, did he get injured when he pushed his window in? He showed me his backside.


I just got back on his left arm here. There's like some abrasions with their leg, like bruises. Did he say that the windows broke? They shattered. He was worried. He said didn't break that got Detective Johnson's attention.


This detail matched what happened at Joe Sonis. He entered the home through a very large window and the glass in the window didn't break. Well, nobody knew that we hadn't released that information.


This is huge. That's huge. That's huge. That wasn't the only detail Reynolds knew.


Did he tell you how many times he shot this guy there? He said he just shot him repeatedly. OK, I think he said he wanted the gun.


Reynolds then went on to tell the detective about that Gatorade bottle. Did he use any kind of devices, silencers, special elongated clips? You said a Gatorade bottle. OK, so he said he used a Gatorade bottle, I guess, to help muffle the noise or something.


OK, well, we knew that was huge, too, because once again, we hadn't released that information either. So these are all little details that there's no way to someone. Correct. Could know who didn't have inside knowledge. That is correct. That's correct.


And there was more Reynolds said someone else was involved in the murder, someone wealthy, prominent. Turns out both people were names the detectives had already heard before. Coming up, a motive for murder. There is some kind of like a triangle, things going on with a shiny payoff. It was going to be three bars of silver when Dateline continues. What does 20, 20 mean for small businesses? You have to do more with less suddenly every single hire is critical, but there are fewer resources to find the right people or sponsor, indeed is here to help.


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Jeffrey Epstein is dead. But for as many victims, the search for justice is still alive because Epstein had help, lots of help. And on this season of Broken, host and investigative reporter Tara Palmeri follows Eppstein survivors as they tracked down those who enabled and witnessed his crimes and hold them accountable. Broken Seeking Justice documents the journey of these women to find out what justice looks like in their lives, including their battle against the government to change how it treats victims of child sex abuse.


They're naming names, they're seeking justice, and sometimes they even find it. For the many brave survivors, the Eppstein story isn't over. It's just beginning. Listen to Broken seeking justice wherever you get podcast's. Investigators can search years for a clue to crack a case wide open, some get a lucky break from out of nowhere. And that's what happened to Detective Zach Johnson in the Joe Sonja murder investigation.


You said yourself, someone always knows. Somebody always knows something. And there was your someone and there was, ah, someone that came forward with the information that someone was a guy named Paul Reynolds.


He told detectives his friend confessed to killing a doctor in Lubbock and who was his friend. He was a man police learned about the first night of their investigation. His name was Dave Shepard.


What is your jaw do when you hear the name David Shepard? I couldn't believe it.


And I was like, I think we got him. I think we've got good information. Nobody knows this.


And Reynolds had more for the detective.


Did he go into any other details? Why did he do this? I mean, I think yeah. So there was some kind of like a triangle or a triangle. Things going on like love triangles, I'm not sure. Yeah, OK. And there are some doctor, a doctor in Lubbock, OK. And a girlfriend had two of them had in common the doctor in and Dave the two doctors.


OK, a girlfriend, two doctors, a love triangle. Guess who was also involved. Someone the detective already knew. Dr. Mike Dixon. Dixon, remember, dated Rochelle before she met Joe Sonya. They were the doctors in that love triangle.


I was like freaked out by the whole thing.


Reynolds then made a vague but ominous connection between Dr. Sonia and Dixon.


Something happened between these two. That we gave things that he needed to avenge my and apparently Dixon was not only going along with it, but he was handed a. OK, yeah, sort of shocked that I brought up the detective, you'll recall, talked to Dixon hours after Joe Sonnier was found murdered.


This is a huge whodunit for sure. Well, I didn't.


Johnson had been suspicious of him from the start. Your Spidey sense was going off. Yes. Yes. There were a lot of issues here that happened during this time with him. But I don't have any probable cause to go and investigate this man any further.


For instance, that night when the detective interviewed Dixon, he didn't mention that Shepard had dropped by to pick up those cigars. That information came from Dixon's girlfriend and he acted strange when asked about it. And he stood very still and then he collected himself. And we're back to the oh, well, his name is Dave Shepard.


You know, why do you need to know about him now? That answer made sense because he knows that David Shepard is involved in the murder and he doesn't want me to link on to Dave Shepard and to talk to him.


And there was another part of Rennolds story that added a critical detail to something police had already learned. He said Shepard had been stalking Joe Somnia.


He's been watching this guy for how long? Four weeks. Was he watching there and loving? I assume so. Did he tell you how he was watching? Apparently he was in this guy's yard.


Detective Johnson thought back to that flash, Rochelle said she and Joe saw one night at his house.


It's dark outside. And just then I saw Flash from the outside. And earlier that same day, she saw someone watching her in the parking lot outside her gym, it was this big, creepy looking guy sitting there.


Dave Shepard was a big guy, well over six feet tall and some 300 pounds. So it could have been him even at night. I could see the man inside the car. And it wasn't just Rochelle who thought someone was watching her. Deborah Hollowell, the dance instructor, told investigators she noticed a stranger watching her studio from a parking lot across the street right around that area over there.


It was the studio where Rochelle and Dr. Sonia went dancing.


I would see him outside quite often when I take my smoke breaks, hiding behind a semi truck that felt like he was just really staring over our direction.


Her description could fit Shepard as well. She said he was big and shaggy and he was just staring.


And that gave me such a bad feeling.


He was worried that these numbers were going to be traced back to him. There was yet another detail Reynolds had for the detectives, the handsome reward. Shepard said Dixon offered him to kill Dr. Sonia and it was going to be three bars of silver.


OK, you got one early because he came to somebody and he told me about this bar.


So Dixon gives him a silver bar as an advance and he gives it to him around Father's Day. This bar, Silver Sheriff's deputies were monitoring the interview as it happened.


Well, one of those deputies gets on a computer database types and David Shepperd's information. And there you go. There's a silver bar the Davis Schepper sold in Amarillo, Texas, around Father's Day.


We have a confirmed police were convinced they had their suspects. Hours later, a SWAT team showed up at Mike Dixon's house. How shocked was he? He was he was very shocked.


Just very angry. It was 2:00 in the morning when they brought him in for questioning. I mean, this arrest, two 15 in the morning. I have no idea what OK here. You want an attorney or do you want to talk to me? Well, I don't know what's going on now. OK. Did he start talking at all or was he still shut down?


He requested his attorney, as you prefer, to go by Mr. Schaeffer today. David. Wouldn't talk either. OK, so at this time where you want to have a lawyer present. Yes.


Police notified the Sunni family hours later. It was the day of Joe's funeral.


They told me that they had arrested David Shephard and Mike Dixon for my dad's murder. So it made the funeral slightly easier for us as a family because justice was on its way.


What did you know about Michael Dixon and Dave Shepard leading into that arrest?


Did you know he knew absolutely nothing about them other than Thomas? Michael Dixon had dated Rochelle before? My father. That is it.


They soon would learn plenty about a twisted and devious plan that led to Joe Sonis murder. Coming up, double trouble from a very odd couple, Dr. Dixon was very well-educated, he had a successful business up in Amarillo. David Shepard, he was a con man. His life was just tanking.


Five days after Joe Sonis body was found, police arrested Mike Dickson and Dave Shepard for his murder.


And Detective Johnson began looking into their backgrounds as he built a case against them. By all accounts, the two appeared to be an unlikely duo.


What were you learning about Dr. Mike Dixon?


Dr. Dixon was very well-educated. He had a successful business up in Amarillo. He was probably the best hand surgeon between Amarillo and Dallas.


He was extremely motivated and what he wanted to do and he worked my whole life to build what he ended up creating was his practice.


Andrew Dixon is Mike Dixon's son. She was a fantastic plastic surgeon. He kind of taught me once you see something, no matter how hard it is, no matter how hard you have to work, you know, you can get it. You can you can achieve those things.


And he set an example for his son. Andrew says his dad worked tirelessly to build a successful practice. It also included cosmetic services. At one point, he even had his own talk show.


I get the patients that come in and say, I want to look like J.


Lo or Beyonce or his patients loved him taking care, not just for the way Dixon made them look, he says, but how he treated them to me.


And if people couldn't afford things or needed help, he was there to help them. And I remember at Thanksgiving, we would always load up food and go to his patients that didn't have a lot of family. So we would come in and bring him food and talk with him for a little while. And I mean, he was there for me. He cared about him.


Then there was Dave Shepard, Big Dave, as he was known, the polar opposite of high achieving and charitable Mike Dixon, who was this man? What did he do? What was his story?


David Shepard. He was a con man is what we came to learn about him.


He had tried several business ventures for himself, anywhere from real estate to pharmaceutical sales. Personally, his life was just tanking. As soon as he came into money, he got rid of it. He spent it.


I still believe in his interview with the detective, Paul Reynolds said he'd known Shepard since they were teenagers.


How would you describe his personality? Dave is a guy who can be very bombastic, outgoing, pompous, arrogant, obnoxious kind of thing.


Big Dave was known for the tall tales he told. Was he full of you know what? Yes, he bragged about jobs he never had. Let's run down some of the occupations that he's claimed to have. OK, private investigator is what he claimed to be at one time. True or false? I believe that to be false.


Sheriff's deputy, I believe, is Potter County. He even had a badge in his possession. True or false? That was false.


He claimed to be a very successful businessman in every business venture that he had.


That was false as well. He was a person that liked to put on a facade that, hey, I'm I'm on the up and up.


Instead, he was down and out. But that didn't stop him from living large. He spent time at cigar shops, strip clubs and martini bars. Detective Johnson learned more about him from one of his bar buddies.


He portrayed himself as having money. You know, he would always try to dress nice and he had smoke a lot of cigars. But I found out after about six months from knowing him, didn't have the money that he tried.


So what brought the deadbeat and the doctor together? The two enjoyed fine cigars and saw each other occasionally at smoke shops in Amarillo.


They became friends around 2010 when they both went through divorces and they kind of bonded over that poor misfortune, I guess, Shepherd's Bar.


But he told the detective he heard Shepard rave about Dixon.


He was always saying how much she liked him and how good of a guy was. And it was one of those deals where it's like, oh, well, Dixon does this and he drives a course and he has such a nice house. And when you see them together, Dave and Dixon, what kind of places did you see them together at? Strip Club Cassidy's OK. It was. Oh yeah. Butler's Martini Bar or Cassidys is whenever I see them two together.


OK, the two friends became business partners in 2011 when Shepard had another one of his big ideas. In his interview, Reynolds said he was in on it briefly as well.


It's its business for offer allergy testing to doctors office. And the deal is just like this one guy was going to be his medical director, Andrew Dixon remembers meeting Shepherd twice, once in a restaurant with his dad when they told him about that new business idea, didn't seem anything to off by the guy.


But I didn't really have a lot of communication with him. I didn't have a lot of time to spend around him, so I couldn't really formulate a good opinion about him.


Another time was when his dad invited Shepherd for Thanksgiving. And, you know, he had told me that David was going through a rough time. And, you know, at the time I knew my mom and dad were kind of going through a rough time, too. So I think they were going through things together at the same time, you know, to where they could kind of feel for one another. And that's what he told me. He said, David's going through hard times.


So he's come to Thanksgiving.


But now his father and shepherd were behind bars and Andrew was dumbfounded. You know my dad. No way. Absolutely not. You know, he was somebody that valued the human life. No way he would ever be involved in something of taking it away. So you're think this is crazy?


Crazier still when he began learning the details. I mean, it's all just wild, you know?


I mean, one of the smartest guys I know pays silver that can be tracked. You know, you're thinking that's absurd.


Dixon and Shepard stayed silent for months. Then Shepard had a change of heart. Dave Shepard starts to fill in the blanks. He does about what happened.


Yes, he does. Is that true? He started talking and wouldn't stop. I promise I'll be compliant with the new rules coming up.


He want me to call the ex-girlfriend and lie to her, say that I was having sex with her boyfriend as well for money. How a plot to get revenge turned deadly poison.


The weapon discharged several times.


After three or four discharges backing away when Dateline continues, Margaret, are you willing to give her a suit?


Three months after Joe Sonis murder, Big Dave Shepard was in a police interview room ready to tell all. He cut a deal with then district attorney Matt Powell.


What the deal was, is basically him. Tell the truth. If we felt that he told the truth and we would let him plead guilty to life without parole and waive the death penalty. Where were you during his confession?


I was in a different room watching it for and watching as Shepard told detectives how his bromance with Mike Dixon started his quick witted and kind of sassy smart ass.


And we just kind of hit it off and how they began spending more time together while they both went through their divorces. We've got to have a drink, cigar, you know, over other friends were married. So young, talked a lot about your personal lives. So we just disagree somewhat.


But, gentlemen, I mean, Dixon talked about the women in his life, like Rochelle Chatenay. Shepard even met her.


She's around 40, not 50 years old, smoking hot. I thought she was just lovely.


I thought you just saw Dixon was crazy about her, but it didn't last. And Shepard told detectives when Rochelle took up with another man, another doctor named Joe, Sonia Dixon didn't like it one bit. The two buddies tossed around some bizarre schemes to try and break up Rochelle and Joe.


David tells Dr. Dixon, If you really want to get to Sonia, you know what you need to do.


You need to order him some gay porn magazine and you got to send it to his office. So they did they do it or.


No, they don't do that. Dr. Dixon's like, nah, man, that's that's not I don't want to do that.


It's very another scheme they concocted to embarrass Dr. Sonia involved hiring a woman Shepard knew from a gentlemen's club named Sheena Teague. Detectives spoke to her. So did Weeks. He has a proposal for you.


He said that his friend, Dr. Dixon, had been dating a woman and that she was now dating a doctor in Lubbock. And he wanted me to call the ex-girlfriend and lie to her, say that I was.


Having sex with her boyfriend as well for money, did you say why are you why do you want to do this? No, I'm more laughed it off when I told him that I would think about it.


When you said you'd think about it. Did he just drop it right away? Yeah, we just just kind of left it there. He never asked me again. I think he got the gist that I wasn't going to do it.


That idea sounded similar to that letter Rasha received from someone named Tina. Remember, she alleged Jo paid her for sex. Police hadn't found her since she gave no last name. Now, they thought the letter might have come from Dickson and Shepherd on occasion.


Found all of them out. And Shepard had more reported because it's been more and more time. But Dr. House try to pick him up what his habits are. He said Dickson sent him to Lubbock repeatedly to spy on Rashelle and Joe, he tells me that Rashelle and her wanting to someday take this dance classes. And if so, where the dance class was going to go, there's no doubt in my mind they were stuck in these guys, you know, months and months before the murder took place.


And detectives wanted to know how Dixon's obsession turned from merely creepy to downright diabolical.


Tell me how he told you or how you all discussed killing the auctioneer initially. You want somebody to break into his house to make it look like, you know, just close the home invasion robbery and you're talking about breaking into someone's house, is there, or when he comes home?


This is gotan we're not turning back. And Dave's like, oh, my God, he wants this man dead.


Shepard said he then realized he would be the hit man for his friend Dixon, and he described step by step how he did it. Shepard said he got to Ludvik around 4:00 in the afternoon. He sneaked into Joe Sonis backyard and waited for the doctor to come home.


I have my bag in the bag and something on. With a battery bottle on the tip of the. A knife about three and a half hours went by nothing, and then Shepherd said he heard a rapping on the window.


Joe Sanneh was inside his house looking right at him.


I was. A doctor saw get. I walked to the window, he has lowered the window about this far from the top down. What happens when you walk up to the window point? The weapon discharges several times. After three or four discharges, he's backing away, he's running across to the group. I believe the garage. So he runs down the hallway. Is he out of sight for me? Yes, sir. What are you doing? I pushed the window in.


I don't know if he's going for a gun. I don't know if I'm ever hitting a. I don't know what's happening in the window, no problem when you go in there, what happens? I pretty much run around the corner as much as I can as I turn around down the hallway, right into the garage. He's laying on the floor. Not really. Not breathing. Nothing. I check his pulse in his neck. But that wasn't enough for him.


I pulled a knife on my back and I studied the vital organs two or three more times after the murder, Shepard drove the two hours back to Amarillo.


24 hours later, he drove to a lake. It was around midnight. I got the gun. By the way, you feel like despite everything he had done, he seemed quite credible. If you look at what he was saying, match it up with everything else that we knew, it went hand in hand. So there was there wasn't very much doubt in our mind that he was telling the truth.


And the next day, Shepherd led investigators to the gun. I remember driving up. The drainage ditch. You brought David Shepherd back here. Yes, he says, I'll show you where it is, Jim. Give you my best estimate. My best recollection. OK.


He walked down one side of the lake and then stopped. He used a rock to demonstrate it.


And just like that in this park. That's probably. And he tosses that rock down there and we've got the dive team guys over here looking and we've got eyes on it and sure enough, they go down. So they follow the path of the rock. They follow the path of the rock and a couple of feet from the rock, boom, there's our murder weapon.


So now the D.A. had a confession and a murder weapon. And over the next year, lawyers on both sides negotiated the terms of the deal in exchange for Shepard's statement, the death penalty was off the table. And in August 2013, he pleaded no contest to one count of capital murder.


Basically, he's confessing that he had been paid to kill Dr. Sanjay.


But Dr. Mike Dixon wasn't interested in a deal. He was determined to fight. He insisted to his attorneys that he had nothing to do with the murder from day one.


He made it very clear that he did not pay, he did not plan, and he did not participate in the killing of Josefsson.


So Dixon would roll the dice and risk a murder trial. And what happened in court would be unbelievable. Coming up, this order in the court, he's on the stand at all as well, but it wasn't always very quickly if there was probably ever time in Lubbock County to have a camera in the courtroom, it might have been. During these economically turbulent times, everyone is looking for a way to feel more financially secure. And if you're still throwing money at high interest credit card debt every month, it's time you checked out upstart.


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Lubbock, Texas, was transfixed by the spectacle of a love triangle gone bad for the woman in the middle of it all. Chatenay it was an unimaginable situation.


She described it to a detective aside from the thought of losing a child. This is. The worst situation that I could ever imagine, and I'm sure closure, it's an awful I don't even know who to trust anymore. I don't know who to talk to.


You know, when Mike Dixon's trial started in November 2014, Rashelle found herself at the center of the case.


Her former lover was accused of hiring a friend to murder the love of her life, Joe Soneji, former D.A. Matt Powell.


Our theory was it was an obsession with Rashelle Certina. This is vengeance. This is this is jealousy. He spent months and months and months trying to destroy a relationship that she was in. And so I don't know if it was just a vengeance deal for him or if some part in the back of his mind says, you know, I may get her back.


The state's star witness was Mike Dixon's former buddy, Dave Shepard.


When you met with him before the trial, everything was on track. Yeah, I mean, still on the same page.


You had a deal? Yeah. He was already done and received life without parole sentence.


Dave Shepard had one job to do for the prosecution. Get up on the stand and repeat what he told detectives.


I pulled a knife on my back and a statement and vital organs two or three, four times a day.


Powell had Shepards taped confession, but now he needed the hitman to tell his story in person to the jury. You're in the courtroom. He's on the stand. All's well.


Well, it wasn't all. Well, very quickly, take us through how this all went off the rails.


He started off taking the fifth and he didn't have any right to take the fifth. Then he changed his story. Then he would ask me, he would pretend like he couldn't hear.


It was really just a side show, a side show with Dave Shepard as its ringleader. If there was probably ever a time in Lubbock County to have a camera in the courtroom, it might have been here.


But cameras weren't allowed in the room. When Shepard told the jury his confession was a complete fabrication, he now said he'd acted alone and that Dixon had nothing to do with the murder.


Are you thinking that I can't save this?


Well, you know, what we tried to do was when he starts denying everything, we showed the videotape to the jury and see just the difference in demeanor between him on that videotape and the guy we were seeing in the courtroom. You want to be hurt. And then it gradually developed into having him killed.


You really had to think on your feet. Yeah, it was it was something when 20 something years of doing this job, I have never I've never been part of something quite like that before.


If it hasn't been fun and hasn't been good and hadn't been. And Shepard stuck to his new story when his daughter visited him at the Lubbock County jail after he testified.


As far as Dr. Sonya's death, nobody's involved in that but me. It was a terrible accident, my carelessness and stupidity, OK, nobody's responsible for that except me. You need to understand that it was not intended. I wasn't paid to do that. Why would you make the statement that Mike paid you to do it if he didn't pay to do it? Because my attorneys, what they told me, you know, when I did that statement to the police, my attorneys told me I needed to sell it.


Shepperd's about face was pure gold. For Mike Dixon's attorneys, Dan Hurley and Frank Sellers. This is huge for your defense strategy. Were you then surprised when he did that?


That's what he consistently told me. No, Mike did not pay. He didn't want anybody harm. That was all me. Mike didn't have anything to do with that.


And the defense had its own star witness, Dr. Mike Dixon. Dixon's attorneys hoped if the jurors heard from the man himself, they too, would be convinced he was innocent.


So what does Dr. Dixon acknowledge was really in the works?


He acknowledged that he was trying his hardest to get proof of justice.


Sonia being with other women and not being committed to Rochelle sitting on the stand.


Dixon stated he never asked Shepard to kill Dr. Sonya. What he did admit to was cooking up schemes to sabotage Rochelle's new relationship.


He said he sent Schepper to install cameras at Sonis House, cameras he hoped would capture Rochelle's boyfriend with other women.


He was going to use these photographs to show Rochelle that Dr. Shanté was not who she believed that he was, the defense argued.


When Sheppard arrived at Sonya's house, he went rogue and committed a brutal murder, which was never part of that plan. What is Mike Dixon guilty of?


Where do we start? Capital stupidity of the highest degree and trusting David Sheppard.


What is Mike Dixon not guilty of? Capital murder. Murder, he'd never knew that this was going to happen. He never dreamed that it would be like this. After weeks of testimony, the jury was given the case and they faced this dilemma about the state's key witness, you had to make a choice believe story A. That was in the video confession with Dave Shepherd or a believe story be what the man was telling you essentially to your face in that courtroom.


That's true. And that became a turning point for some of the jurors. Jury foreman Doug Moore believed story, a shepherd's taped confession that Mike Dixon hired him to kill Dr. Soniat. And more expected everyone in the jury room would agree he was wrong because when the jurors took their first vote, we had 10 guilty and two not guilty.


But they kept talking, juror aragonite said there wasn't enough evidence to convict Dixon, he found Schepper to be bizarre.


There was something not right with him, crazy, unstable. I'm not a doctor. I don't know for sure. But in my mind, I got the impression that something was not right.


And he had a hard time believing this respected doctor was a criminal mastermind.


Was it plausible that he did the murder for hire? Of course, anybody given a weak moment could have done that. I just didn't see it as being a he wanted to kill somebody else. I didn't seem as being that vindictive.


The jurors deliberated for hours and into the next day. But as they kept going, it began to become obvious that we had holdouts who were not going to change their mind.


They were deadlocked. So they sent a note to the judge and he declared a mistrial. Joe, Sonia's sister, Missy, was numb.


I never thought about a mistrial. It was what we've done all of this. We sat here for all of these days for nothing.


But for Dicksons attorneys, this was a victory. It was, in my opinion, a huge battle to win, to get a hung jury certainly wasn't the war, but it was it was important and they were charging ahead.


Dixon would face a second trial in twenty fifteen. Is Mike Dixon going to stop fighting?


No, I don't believe he'll ever stop. Coming up, a new trial, a new jury, new problems for the prosecution, usually retrials are not good for the prosecution. You know, get further away from the event.


You lose witnesses when Dateline continues on October 26th, 2015.


It was deja vu at the Lubbock County courthouse after a hung jury. Dr. Mike Dixon was back on trial. The once prominent plastic surgeon was accused of hiring Dave Schepper to murder Joe Sonia for Sonia's family. It was time to put on their game face.


I decided before the second trial that we should be confident as a family and support the D.A. and really push this thing forward.


How are you going to do things differently this time around? You know, every time you get a second chance, there's good and bad about that. Usually retrials are not good for the prosecution. You know, you get further away from the event, you lose witnesses. But I think what we try to do, we try to streamline it better.


The state didn't call Dave Shepard to testify a second time. Instead, prosecutors played his taped confession when the weapon discharged several times.


And this jury heard from Paul Reynolds, Sheppard's friend, and the man who's tipped to police cracked the case wide open like Reynolds didn't testify in the first trial.


But now in court, he backed up key details of what Sheppard said on the tape, including that his friend planned the murder with Mike Dixon.


He was obviously obsessing about it.


And at this trial, Rachelle Schettino was a key witness for the state.


Once again, I think she painted a picture of Mark Dixon. It was important for her to testify. There was no way we were not going to get away with putting her on the stand. He was just emotionally cruel.


Rochelle painted a dark picture of Dixon. She shared a similar one with detectives.


Took out your weak point. And then when he could, he would use it against you. He was just me. He was a mean man, you know, and he presented himself kind of like underdog is the mild mannered kind. Person, but he was just it was the worst relationship that I ever had in my entire life, Rochelle said when she moved on with Dr. Jo Sonia.


She found her forever love, but Dixon didn't seem willing to let her go. He was obsessive when he was trying to get me back with him.


The state also pointed to something strange. Dixon did. A few days after the murder, he tried to destroy messages on his cell phone. He erases the phone, resets it and jumps into the swimming pool just to make sure. With the phone. With the phone? Yes, with the phone.


Dixon eventually turned his phone over to the police and a forensic expert was able to retrieve about half of his texts. What was in those messages, the state said, proved its case.


There were a series of urgent texts between Shepard and Dixon in the middle of June. Got to happen tomorrow. I know. I just need him to show. That's why you got to stick closer to know his whereabouts. Not trying to second guess, but we're getting down to the wire here.


Why is there a wire? Why is there a time limit? Why is there why is it important for him to show? Why is it important for if he shows up, it's over.


What they were doing, D.A. Powell argued, was planning a murder.


But there was no evidence of murder either in the text messages. Yeah, but are you going to put evidence in a text message said, go kill the guy? Obviously, you're not going to do that. Instead of saying killing somebody, you say, put it on.


You can't wait for him to get home. You know, all I need is an opportunity to get it done.


On July 10th, 2012, the day of the murder, there were thirty seven texts and four calls between Shepard and Dixon.


The day after there were twenty one texts, including one Dixon fired off to Shepard once detectives left his house, just had a visit from Lubbock PD, Ashe said.


You came by for cigar's. They will see our texts and conversations. Stay calm, Lelo.


Yeah, I mean it's hard to misconstrue that one place just there and then all of a sudden your takes in the murder to lay low.


But once it was the defense's turn, Dixon's attorney's Frank Sellers and Dan Hurley argued not one of those messages pointed to a murder for hire. A lot was made of the text messages between David Shepard and Mike Dickson. They don't look great at look for value.


Something clearly was being planned. But you don't believe that it shows that murder was being planned.


If you're walking down the street and you found that phone on the ground and you picked it up and you looked at the text messages between Mike Dixon and David Shepard, there is no way that you would think that this these are texts about a murder. No way.


But if Dixon was innocent, why did he try to trace the contents of his phone?


I think this is a problem people watching will have is I wouldn't do that if I had nothing to hide. I wouldn't start destroying all this evidence.


I could say they wouldn't do it until they were in that same situation.


Everybody knows the feeling that when they get pulled over, even when it's just for speeding and your heart drops and your your adrenaline starts to rush, imagine that on a much, much larger scale. And he's being wrapped up in a murder that he had nothing to do with in the sense that he never wanted. Dr. Shanté did. He did have a lot to do with David Sheppard, but he was terrified, absolutely terrified.


Once again, the best person to make the defense's case was Mike Dixon himself. So for the second time, he took the stand and he was adamant, Dixon said he wanted dirt to make Sonia look bad in Michelle's eyes, nothing more. He absolutely did not ever want David Shepard to harm Joseph Sonya physically.


After four weeks of testimony, the defense closed with this, where was the proof Mike Dixon wanted Joe Sonia dead? The defense said there was none. Dixon's son, Andrew, was on edge.


We're just hopeful that this is it and we're going to get him back and he's and he's going to kind of move past this jury.


Deliberations started then just two hours later. And we were just talking. And and then when they came back and said, we have a verdict and we thought he was kidding and it was so fast. Coming up, the jury speaks again, all these things go through your mind.


I was sobbing uncontrollably, but this case was far from over.


November 18th, 2015, Judgment Day for Mike Dixon. The former doctor waited for the jury's decision with his son, Andrew. We got to actually sit back there with him and talk to him. It kind of honestly help the nerves a little bit to see how he was, you know, and just at least be there with them.


And Andrew was by his dad's side for what came next. After deliberating for a scant two hours, the jury announced there was a verdict.


And then you're thinking, is that good? Is that bad? You know, I mean, all these things go through your mind. For Andrew, it was bad, very bad. His dad was found guilty on two counts of capital murder.


They kept saying guilty, guilty, guilty, you know, yes, I found him guilty. And it was like a bad dream, I think.


But Joe, Sonia's family waited years to hear that one word.


I was sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn't keep it together because this was just a release and it felt so nice to know that we had gotten justice.


Finally, I immediately just thought, it's over. We did it. It's over. We got him.


Detective Dixon, the wealthy talented surgeon, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, but his attorneys promised this wasn't the end.


We believe that this is round two of a deep and serious war and we intend to do everything we can for the Dickson family and for Mike Dixon.


That included an appeal filed in 2016, a year after Dixon's conviction. Matt Powell saw the filing as routine.


And I remember getting there brief and there was nothing there that we said, oh, gosh, I'm worried about that. The issues that were brought up were the same that we'd seen on on hundreds of cases.


Did you just kind of dismiss it? For the most part? I don't know if you dismiss it, but you you don't worry about it.


Powell left the district attorney's office and went into private practice. And not long after he got an unwelcome surprise, a Texas appeals court overturned Dixon's murder conviction. The former doctor would get a new trial. The thought never crossed my mind that there would be a successful appeal on the case.


Dixon's appeal was one on two issues how police collected certain cell phone evidence and restrictions on public access to the courtroom on a few occasions. And in January 2019, after three years in prison, Dixon was released on two million dollars bond. He was a free man, but his troubles were far from over. Lubbock prosecutors filed their own appeal to a higher court. It was a Hail Mary.


It's extremely rare that the Court of Criminal Appeals grants discretionary review of a criminal case, even a serious case like this.


But the higher court did take this one, and this past January, it ruled in favor of the prosecution, Dicksons conviction was reinstated and in April, in the midst of a pandemic, he was once again put behind bars.


Is this where you take a deep breath?


Yeah, I took a sigh of relief and there's some joy there.


There's some relief, but only some relief. So this is remarkably still not over. Yeah, still not over.


There's other issues.


The court said that the appellate team for the defense could address, which means in the future, Dixon could win another shot at freedom. Frank Sellers declined our request for a new interview because of the pending appeal, but after Dixon's conviction was reinstated, he told local media the trial was infected with legal errors and that he was confident Dixon would be granted a new trial. As for the Sony family, they take comfort in Joe's legacy. We spoke to them after that second trial.


Does he continue to guide you any decision in life? I like to ask or think, what would you do in this situation? Because he always took the right track.


I think that I'm a better father because of the way my dad raised me. I know I'm a better husband. I'm a better friend. And I hope that he is proud of me. And I know that he is proud of me.


When I think about him, I think about how he was. He always pushed himself to be the best. But most of all, I just miss my big brother. That's all for this edition of Dateline. We'll see you again tomorrow at 10:00, 9:00 Central. And of course, I'll see you each weeknight for NBC Nightly News. I'm Lester Holt. For all of us at NBC News, good night.


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