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How a golf magazine helped free a man wrongly convicted of murder after 27 years in prison

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Harvey Day
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How a golf magazine helped free a man wrongly convicted of murder after 27 years in prison

Valentino Dixon spent 27 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. And his freedom is, in part, thanks to the drawings he sent to a golf magazine

The US legal system has many, many flaws – including a history of outright racism – and all these problems have been highlighted time and again in fascinating documentaries.

From Ken Burns’ The Central Park Five to Netflix’s Making a Murderer, we’ve seen exactly how the corruption of the American judicial system has repeatedly targeted the wrong people and left innocent men and women languishing behind bars for decades.

And this most recent example of injustice is perfectly primed for a 10-part investigative documentary series.

Valentino Dixon, who was convicted of shooting someone dead in Buffalo, New York, in 1991, has had his case overturned after a golf magazine published his drawings and profiled him – leading to a re-examination of the original crime.

Dixon, now 48, was handed a minimum 38-year-to-life sentence for killing 17-year-old Torriano Jackson one night in August 1991, after an argument over a girl, according to the BBC.

While he acknowledged being at the crime scene, Dixon always maintained his innocence.

While serving time behind bars, Dixon picked up pencil drawing and began drawing elaborately-detailed golf courses.

His sketches impressed the editors of Golf Digest, who featured his drawings and profiled the prisoner in 2012.

“Maybe one day I’ll get to play the game I’ve only imagined,” Mr Dixon said in the article, describing how he drew landscapes he has never seen.

The coverage inspired a re-examination of the case by Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, which uncovered that prosecutors had omitted to reveal to Mr Dixon’s defence attorney that a gunpowder test on his client’s clothes had come back negative during the original trial.

Lamarr Scott - who is in jail for a separate attack – has now formally confessed to the crime.

Dixon has now taken his first steps of freedom in 27 years – and presumably he’ll get to enjoy a few rounds on the links soon.

We wish you well, Sir. 

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(Image: Getty)

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Harvey Day

Digital writer for Shortlist.com / @harveyday94 / harvey.day@shortlist.com

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