Thanks to pretty pictures, an innocent man is released from prison

Occasionally, justice prevails for the innocent, but the story of Valentino Dixon, whose conviction for murder was vacated Wednesday after he served 27 years, tells us that there are likely innocent people in prison because they can’t draw pretty golfscape scenes.

That’s what got Golf Digest magazine interested in Dixon and, once it was smitten with his drawings, it took a look at his conviction and found something wasn’t quite right.

“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,” the magazine says in its story today.

Basically, the usual things that send innocent people to prison.

The magazine started focusing on Dixon six years ago and people picked up his cause. But nothing happened. Petitions for a pardon or clemency went unanswered by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

But then, suddenly, Dixon’s conviction was overturned. Another man, already serving time, confessed to doing it. An old district attorney was replaced by a new one. Law students took up the case.

“Once a case crosses a certain threshold of media attention, it matters, even though it shouldn’t,” Dixon’s pro bono lawyer says. “It’s embarrassing for the legal system that for a long time the best presentation of the investigation was from a golf magazine.”


Nobody will pay for railroading an innocent man. All involved have either retired or moved on to new jobs.

But Dixon’s freedom carries a message to other innocent people in prison: start drawing.

(h/t: Paul Tosto)