An innocent man who spent 27 years in prison has finally seen his wrongful conviction vacated in the Erie County District Court of Buffalo, New York.
In a strange twist of fate, Valentino Dixon's passion for golf and drawing helped secure his freedom. During his long prison sentence, Dixon began work on an extensive collection of golf course drawings after being asked to draw the Augusta National's 12th hole by a prison warden.
From there, Dixon wrote a letter to Golf Digest describing his ordeal:
"I've never hit a golf ball. I've never set foot on a golf course," said Valentino Dixon, who drew golf courses whi… https://t.co/tTtYGCh4lH— David Beard (@David Beard)1537449967.0
Journalists working for Golf Digest were moved by Dixon's story, and they began reporting on the discrepancies and oddities of his hasty conviction back in 1991. Meanwhile, researchers at the Georgetown University Prison Reform Project took a closer look at the evidence and testimony involved in his case.
Dixon's daughter helped start a grassroots campaign to raise funds for their mounting legal fees. His newfound freedom is the result of these combined efforts and Golf Digest's heroic reporting.
A look at the artwork that Valentino Dixon, exonerated this week, created from inside the walls of Attica prison. https://t.co/LeT8bIwySO— Golf Digest (@Golf Digest)1537545667.0
Dixon's sentence was vacated after a motion by the Erie County district's wrongful convictions unit.
The emotional reunion with family: Valentino Dixon is a free man @news4buffalo https://t.co/iSbziloRYN— Marissa Perlman (@Marissa Perlman)1537378157.0
Valentino Dixon speaking publicly for first time as a free man, since 1991. He was wrongfully convicted of a murder… https://t.co/5OlKbRUZOe— WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@WBEN NewsRadio 930AM)1537377850.0
Family of Valentino Dixon elated he is now free @WGRZ https://t.co/5MV1AzrVlu— Claudine Ewing (@Claudine Ewing)1537368587.0
This is awesome! People on social media were thrilled that justice was served:
@TODAYshow What an amazing individual 🙌🏼 #ValentinoDixon #thetodayshow #Today #freeatlast #awesome— Elizabeth (@Elizabeth)1537543105.0
#ValentinoDixon 💯💯💯💯💯 PRAISE GOD for making a way for you to be FREE!! 😭😭💓💓✊🏾— Came from Carolina (@Came from Carolina)1537542935.0
#ValentinoDixon #GodisGood— Sasha Coco (@Sasha Coco)1537543091.0
THIS IS THE DEFINITION OF GRACE. “I had my moments when I was bitter and angry and frustrated, but I’m not upset wi… https://t.co/5Nik9quJaP— jayewatson (@jayewatson)1537541177.0
It's easy to see why Dixon became so infatuated with golf during his imprisonment. He yearned for the outside, a sense of tranquility, and peace within nature. Golf represented something that he sorely deserved: freedom.
We hope this incredibly brave man gets to live out his dream on the golf course soon.