'Golf Digest' helps free an innocent man who spent 27 years in jail on a murder conviction

  • On Wednesday, Valentino Dixon was made a free man after spending 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
  • Dixon’s innocence was eventually brought about thanks in part to “Golf Digest,” which had taken an interest in Dixon’s case after seeing his art depicting golf holes.
  • The attention brought by the magazine’s reporting on Dixon led to new media attention and began a process that ended in his innocence and release.

In 2012, “Golf Digest” published the story of Valentino Dixon, an inmate serving 39 years-to-life in prison on a murder conviction.

Dixon is an artist and spent much of his time in prison drawing images of golf courses. Though he had never played the sport, Dixon got his start after a warden asked him to draw the 12th hole at Augusta National. Eventually, his work caught the eye of “Golf Digest,” and the magazine published a first-person essay written by Dixon.

In addition to taking an interest in his work, “Golf Digest” also took a closer look at his murder conviction in 1991. Dixon had maintained his innocence, and as the magazine investigated, it found that the case against him was rather flimsy, and eventually published an explanation of what they found alongside Dixon’s story.

The new look at the evidence brought the attention of local media, and with it civil justice groups, and now, six years later, Dixon is free, thanks in part to the attention “Golf Digest” helped bring to his case.

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

Asked what he was planning to do once he left the courthouse, Dixon said, “I’m going to Red Lobster to celebrate with my family and my support team, then we’re going to go a park.”

Read more about Dixon’s story here.

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