Valentino Dixon got to take in the fresh air this week after spending almost 30 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
Dixon was convicted for murdering 17-year-old Torriano Jackson in 1991, a conviction that has now been vacated.
Another man, Lamarr Scott, who is in prison for an unrelated attempted murder charge, admitted that he was the one who killed Jackson.
“There was a fight. Shots were fired. I grabbed the gun from under the bench, switched it to automatic, all the bullets shot out. Unfortunately, Torriano ended up dying,” Scott told Erie County Court. “I dropped the gun and ran and it was over and done with.”
Golf Digest became aware of Dixon in 2012 after it discovered drawings he did of golf courses.
“It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence,” wrote the magazine’s editor Max Adler.
Dixon’s conviction for criminal possession of a weapon was not dismissed because it carried a sentence of five to 15 years, which was already completed, according to the judge.
“You are eligible for release today,” said Judge Susan Eagan.
Scott said he got the murder weapon from Dixon, which was enough reason for Erie County District Attorney John Flynn to declare that Dixon wasn’t innocent in the situation and was “an up-and-coming drug dealer in the city of Buffalo.”
“Mr. Dixon is innocent of the shooting and of the murder for what he was found guilty of … but Mr. Dixon brought the gun to the fight. It was Mr. Dixon’s gun,” said Flynn.
The newly released man’s mother, daughter and her 14-month-old twins, greeted him upon his release.
“We’re definitely going to go shopping and go explore life,” Dixon’s daughter Valentina said.“I can’t wait to get him a cell phone and teach him how to Snapchat.”
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.