In 1991, Valentino Dixon was arrested and sentenced to life in prison for the shooting death of Torriano Jackson in Buffalo, New York. The testimonies of three witnesses led to a guilty verdict, plus the recanted testimony of his friend Lamarr Scott.
Scott initially confessed to the murder to clear his friend’s name and record, but when it came time to testify, he reneged on his recollection and left Dixon to carry out the 38 years to life sentence. Dixon, 48, then picked up the hobby of drawing golf courses after reading a Golf Digest magazine while at the Attica Correctional Facility.
“So I’m sitting in my cell, and I’m saying, ‘You know what? These golf drawings are pretty much saving my life because I’m sitting in here for something I didn’t do and I’m on borrowed time,” he said to The Washington Post. “The drawings lifted my spirits in a way I can’t describe.”
Once Dixon read editorial director Max Adler’s “Golf Saved My Life” column, he decided to share his creations with Adler and mailed his case documents as well. Within his letters, Dixon maintained his innocence which inspired Adler and the publication to publish a story on Dixon’s case. The article caught the attention of Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.
After serving 27 years, Dixon was released from prison on Wednesday (Sept. 19). According to The Post, the investigation proved that officers and other legal officials did not possess concrete evidence such as no trace of gunpowder on Dixon’s clothes to prove that he murdered Jackson. Witness testimonies also proved to be unstable, including Scott’s who confessed to the murder once again after recanting during the trial.
Alongside Dixon’s lawyer, Donald Thompson, Scott also claims prosecutors coerced him into recanting his testimony. “Each and every day, it eats away at me that I allowed them to convince me to do the wrong thing,” Scott said to Adler 20 years after his first confession.
Now as a free man, Dixon plans to build a relationship with his children and hit a golf course soon.
READ MORE: Man Falsely Convicted Of Murder At 14 Weeps During Exoneration