Golf Digest helped free wrongly convicted Valentino Dixon from prison this week, nearly three decades after he was incarcerated, thanks largely to thorough investigative journalism.
In 1991, Dixon was convicted of the murder of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson, who was shot dead on a Buffalo street corner, and sentenced to 39 years to life, the New York Post reported.
While behind bars, he took up drawing and in 2012 his impressions of various golf courses caught the attention of Golf Digest, which profiled him for his artwork.
After the magazine noticed Dixon, it also started to notice discrepancies in the case, which seemed "flimsy," with "shoddy police work, zero physical evidence linking Dixon, conflicting testimony of unreliable witnesses," according to Golf Digest's Max Adler.
A series of articles published in the magazine drew the attention of students at Georgetown University working on prison reform issues who set about further investigating the case.
Their work finally led authorities to realize Dixon's innocence, which culminated in him walking out of a Buffalo courtroom a free man on Wednesday.
Another convict, Lamarr Scott, who is serving a 25-year sentence for an unrelated attempted murder, eventually admitted to officials that he had been responsible for the killing that arose from an altercation with Jackson.
Scott said he shot the victim with a firearm obtained from Dixon earlier that day.
Speaking to the Golf Digest following his release, Dixon said he nearly gave up hope on numerous occasions.
"But God kept giving me the strength to keep on and now I know why," he said, adding that he and his family were headed to Red Lobster to celebrate, and then they were going to the park.
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