After spending 27 years in prison on a murky murder charge, Valentino Dixon has been declared innocent thanks to his colored pencils and a golf magazine.
Dixon was sentenced to 39 years to life in prison for the 1991 murder of Torriano Jackson, and served most of the sentence in the Attica Correctional Facility. He passed the time sketching detailed landscapes of golf courses, and eventually caught the eye of Golf Digest. In 2012, Dixon shared his story with the magazine: his shaky conviction, his maintained innocence, and how he longed to set foot on the courses he drew.
Despite a wave of media attention following the profile, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo still puttered past a pardon for Dixon, Golf Digest details. But then, two attorneys stepped in and built a pro bono case around the original magazine article — though "it's embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine," one of the defenders told Golf Digest.
That defense, eventually corroborated with a wrongful convictions report, resulted in Dixon becoming a free man. The man who admitted responsibility for Jackson's killing on the day he was shot — and nearly every day since — pleaded guilty. And Dixon, with his "family and support team" in tow, went to the park.