How Golf Freed an Innocent Man from Prison

Valentino Dixon loves golf, although he’s never played a game in his life. As a young man, he was convicted of murder and sent to prison in 1991, on a 39-year-to-life sentence. He developed a habit of drawing and over the years became a notable sketch artist. A prison employee commissioned him to draw a golf course landscape, and brought a picture to work from. Dixon became fascinated with the scene, and began to focus his art on golf courses from around the country. His reputation for drawing bucolic golf courses spread, and eventually got the attention of the sport’s premiere magazine.

It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence.

The case is complicated, but on the surface it involves shoddy police work, zero physical evidence linking Dixon, conflicting testimony of unreliable witnesses, the videotaped confession to the crime by another man, a public defender who didn’t call a witness at trial, and perjury charges against those who said Dixon didn’t do it. All together, a fairly clear instance of local officials hastily railroading a young black man with a prior criminal record into jail. Dixon’s past wasn’t spotless, he had sold some cocaine, but that didn’t make him a murderer.

Golf Digest published an article about Dixon in 2012, and the publicity led to the dominos of Dixon’s murder case falling, one by one, over the next six years. Wednesday, the conviction was vacated, and Valentino Dixon walked out of prison, an innocent man, ready to resume his life at age 48. Read how it all happened at Golf Digest.  -via Metafilter

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Source: neatorama

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