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How Golf Digest helped Valentino Dixon win his freedom

September 20, 2018

The story of a man freed after spending 27 years in jail for a crime he did not commit resonates beyond just the world of golf. It’s no surprise, then, that when Valentino Dixon, who Golf Digest first profiled in 2012 as he wiled away time in Attica prison on a murder charge drawing golf illustrations, walked out of a New York county court house a free man on Wednesday the story would become national news.

In the wake of the court’s decision to vacate Dixon’s conviction, several news outlets in the U.S. and aboard recounted the 48-year-old’s harrowing story.

That Golf Digest played a role in Dixon’s release is one of the most humbling moments in our history. When Max Adler interviewed him for the original profile—after the inmate wrote to us to tell him how drawing golf courses had become a needed diversion—Dixon professed his innocence of the crime. Adler, now Golf Digest's editorial director, dug further. In his reporting, he eventually talked to LaMarr Scott, already in prison on other charges, who confessed to the crime that Dixon was accused of.

Building on Adler’s work were other entities—notably a group of Georgetown University students working to help freed the wrongly imprisoned—that helped build a case that the Erie County district attorney’s Wrongful Convictions Unit couldn’t ignore.

On this edition of the Golf Digest Podcast, Adler talks with Sam Weinman and Keely Levins about how he first learned of Dixon and his story, what compelled him to dig further and what it was like for him to be outside the courthouse and talk to a now freed Dixon.

And here’s a sampling of the coverage from several major news outlets:

The New York Times
How Golf Digest and college students helped free a man convicted of murder

The Washington Post
How Golf Digest helped free a golf-course artist imprisoned 27 years for a murder he didn’t commit

Golf Digest helped free an innocent man from prison

Forbes How A Golf Digest Article Helped Free An Innocent Man From Prison

New York Post
How Golf Digest helped free an innocent man from prison

USA Today Love of golf figures prominently as wrongly convicted inmate released after 27 years

Awful Announcing
Valentino Dixon’s murder conviction vacated after 27 years in jail, thanks partly to Golf Digest reporting on his case

BBC News
New York inmate’s golf drawings lead to exoneration in murder

The Telegraph
How golf drawings helped free man convicted of a murder he did not commit

Daily Mail
Golf Digest helps to free artist wrongly convicted of murder