Today in Buffalo, New York a man named Valentino Dixon was set free from a wrongful murder conviction … due (initially) to efforts from … the Innocence Project founded by Barry Scheck? The ACLU? A law school student graduation project? A wealthy benefactor? A pro-bono law firm? No, wait for it ..…. Golf Digest.
Six years ago, Golf Digest profiled this inmate who grinds colored pencils to their nubs drawing meticulously detailed golf-scapes. Although Dixon has never hit a ball or even stepped foot on a course, the game hooked him when a golfing warden brought in a photograph of Augusta National’s 12th hole for the inmate to render as a favor. In the din and darkness of his stone cell, the placid composition of grass, sky, water and trees spoke to Dixon. And the endless permutations of bunkers and contours gave him a subject he could play with.
“The guys can’t understand,” Dixon has said. “They always say I don’t need to be drawing this golf stuff. I know it makes no sense, but for some reason my spirit is attuned to this game.”
The magazine was impressed with his work and — as your parents told you: if something seems intriguing, use the encyclopedia — they went one-step-beyond, and began to look at his conviction … and how unconvincing it appeared.
To be sure, others with more legal background joined the effort that the magazine started. And progress was made due to their efforts, plus:
(A) recent report filed by the Erie County district attorney’s wrongful convictions unit, which is a new type of department popping up in various districts these days. Their report was helped by the Georgetown University students, a group of undergraduates who have also created documentaries, websites and social-media campaigns around three other individuals thought to be wrongfully imprisoned, as part of a class. “They did a great job of speaking to witnesses who could still be located, as well as getting Chris Belling [who prosecuted Dixon] to say things at variance with positions he’s argued in the past.”
Now, hold-on-to-your-hats for this ….. his cause was taken-up by none other than …. right-winger extraordinaire Michelle Malkin — can’t wrap-my-head around that.
The man who actually committed the murder (currently serving time for a previous attempted murder conviction) pleaded guilty to it. His new sentence will be served concurrently.
And today … here is Dixon leaving the Erie County courthouse … a free man.
(P.S. …. as this site’s resident Separated-At-Birth guy, the white man on the left in the photo above (at a quick glance) resembled a young Jerry Orbach, the police detective Lennie Briscoe from Law & Order …. gotta stop watching so much TV).
“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” said Dixon, 48, who vowed he would work to help others that were wrongfully incarcerated.
“Overwhelmed,” was all that his mother, Barbara Dixon, was able to say.
Dixon’s daughter, Valentina Dixon, who was just 4 months old when her father went to jail, told reporters that she was looking forward to having a new life with her father in the “real world.”
After the reunion, the Dixon family headed off to have a meal together at a Red Lobster restaurant.
In a week of horrible, depressing news …… this warmed my heart. Good luck to him, thanks to all involved and …. Golf Freakin’ Digest ?!?!?
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.