A Gregg County Assistant District Attorney has been tapped to act as special prosecutor in the murder case against the man accused of killing Panola County Deputy Chris Dickerson, officials said.

Panola County District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson has named April Sikes to the case. Gregg County District Attorney Tom Watson offered prosecutorial assistance, and Sikes was sworn in to the case on Thursday at the Panola County courthouse.

“As a former police officer and detective, news of this senseless tragedy really hit me hard,” Watson said in a press release. “So, as soon as the news broke, I reached out to Danny to lend assistance, knowing that with his smaller staff and limited resources, it needed to be done.

“When a brother in blue is murdered, it hits home,” he said. “It’s personal. This assistance is the right thing to do because of my office’s commitment to law enforcement and because support of law enforcement was a cornerstone promise in my campaign for District Attorney.”

Dickerson was shot and killed Dec. 31 while conducting a traffic stop in Gary. The man identified as the shooter, Gregory DeWayne Newson, 45, of Shreveport, was later captured in Shreveport. He faces a capital murder charge.

Sikes has prosecuted more than 25 capital murder cases in her career, six of those in which the death sentence was sought and imposed.

She is a Baylor University graduate and had worked in the Smith County District Attorney’s Office for more than 15 years before joining Watson’s staff last year.


Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.