Despite another man's confession, Valentino Dixon has been imprisoned at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility for a 1991 shooting he says he did not participate in.
Dixon, now 43, has gained notoriety for his colorful paintings of golf courses, although he has never set foot on one.
Convicted of the Aug. 10, 1991, fatal shooting of 17-year-old Torriano Jackson in inner-city Buffalo, N.Y., Dixon’s sentence has him in prison until 2030.
He told the Associated Press that he was buying beer that night when he heard shots fired. Four people were injured in the hail of gunfire, but only one died. Jackson was shot 27 times.
Dixon, who was out on bail for drug and weapons charges, was arrested the following day.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Dixon recalled. “I thought, ‘The truth will come out.’”
Lamar Scott, who was then 18, confessed to the shooting, but prosecutor Christopher Belling claimed that Dixon’s family coerced the confession from him.
Dixon even claimed witnesses came forward to testify he was innocent, but his conviction still has not been overturned.
“To this day, I’m trying to figure out why they arrested me in the first place,” he said. “I’ve been drawing the golf courses ever since.”
A self-taught artist, Dixon spends 10 to 12 hours a day drawing outdoors scenes with colored pencils. As his artwork gained attention, so has his case. In March, the Golf Channel show, “In Play,” profiled Dixon’s case.
“He’s had at least three appeal proceedings and each time the courts have upheld his conviction,” Belling said, who is now senior trial counsel in the Erie County District Attorney’s office.
Dixon maintains his innocence. His mother, Barbara Dixon said her son, who used to sell cocaine when he was a teen, is now a reformed, productive member of society.
“I go and pick up his drawings every two months from the prison, and when I look at them I feel amazed and proud,” Barbara Dixon told the Buffalo News last month. “This is not the artwork of a murderer.”