Golf Digest Videos

Golfer Reunites with Wife After 27-Year Wrongful Murder Conviction

Valentino Dixon was wrongfully convicted of murder 27 years ago. After having his conviction overturned, he traveled to the Punta Mita resort in Mexico to reunite with his wife, Louise, who was forced to leave the country twelve years ago after overstaying her visa.

Released on 12/6/2018

Transcript

00:00
When I was charged with murder it was like
00:02
a made up dream or is this really happening here,
00:05
like how could this even be, but it was reality
00:09
you know and it became my reality
00:11
and my reality,
00:15
literally overnight.
00:19
For me it started seven years ago
00:21
when I walked into the office one day
00:23
and there's this random letter
00:24
postmarked from Attica Correctional Facility
00:27
and it's from an inmate named Valentino Dixon,
00:29
who isn't a golfer, but says he's found peace
00:32
drawing golf courses and that he'd come across
00:35
my name in the back issues of Golf digest
00:38
that he'd been using for reference material.
00:40
He also says he's innocent
00:41
and of course I'm like yeah right,
00:43
but I'm so captivated by his artwork
00:46
that I've got to look into it further
00:48
and after some digging and digging
00:50
I'm convinced he didn't do it.
00:54
[soft somber music]
00:57
[Reporter] What prompted you to turn yourself in?
01:00
I didn't want my friend to take a rap
01:01
for something that I did.
01:03
[Reporter] Did he do any shooting?
01:04
No he didn't, he didn't do anything.
01:07
[Max] So we published a big investigation,
01:09
it leads to more media coverage.
01:11
It's a slow build and then finally Georgetown University
01:15
gets involved and in the end
01:18
all of this pressure was enough for his attorneys
01:20
to finally successfully overturn his conviction.
01:24
On September of 2018 he walked free.
01:27
[cheering]
01:31
He spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.
01:35
[Crowd Member] Georgetown!
01:36
[cheering]
01:38
[Crowd Member] Thank you Georgetown!
01:40
[applauding]
01:41
Oh man!
01:43
I said the hard work is ahead of me,
01:45
to be able to help you know change the system
01:48
in some type of way.
01:50
And even when Max got involved in 2012
01:54
you know I was so down, you know,
01:57
and he decided that he wanted to write about my story
02:00
and that just lifted my spirit
02:02
and it allowed me to continue to fight.
02:04
Even though freedom didn't come you know
02:06
it was a sense of accomplishment.
02:08
Golf Channel Five you know
02:10
and then you guys came, Georgetown.
02:14
[Man] It was a team effort.
02:15
It was a team effort.
02:16
[Man] You know you had Max, you had incredible lawyers.
02:18
Right.
02:19
[Max] Louise is an Australian woman
02:20
who met Dixon after finding his art on the internet.
02:23
They were married in the Attica cafeteria in 2002.
02:26
She lived in Buffalo for four years,
02:28
visited him almost daily, but then was forced
02:31
to return to Australia after she overstayed her visa.
02:34
She was told it would be six to nine months
02:36
before she could come back to the US,
02:38
but her case has mysteriously dragged on
02:40
without explanation.
02:41
She believes her troubles are connected
02:43
to her past efforts trying to fight
02:45
her husband's conviction.
02:47
So even after Valentino gained his freedom
02:49
he still couldn't go see his wife
02:52
because he had to take a weapons charge
02:54
as part of his plea deal
02:56
and Australia doesn't allow felons to visit.
02:58
So they had to find a neutral country
03:00
and Mexico was the solution.
03:07
I got a Louise right here, you want to pick this up?
03:09
[Valentino] Yes.
03:10
There you go.
03:13
Louise.
03:15
Hey sweetheart.
03:17
I'm gonna see you in about five minutes.
03:23
I know.
03:24
Why don't you come to the front door and meet me down here.
03:26
Try not to faint.
03:29
Okay.
03:32
She's coming down.
03:35
[soft uplifting music]
03:44
Uh-oh where she at?
03:46
Hola senor, mi amigo.
03:47
How are you?
03:48
I'm good.
03:55
Oh man, golly.
04:01
Look at you.
04:03
Ah man.
04:06
You look good man.
04:10
Cut it out.
04:21
Actually I was supposed to be working
04:24
and I was sitting at a computer desk
04:25
and I got a little bit bored
04:28
and I decided to surf the web.
04:30
It had a few different pieces of art
04:32
and then it had Valentino's horses that he had drawn there.
04:36
I was just amazed that they were drawn in pencil
04:39
and through that website Valentino's mother
04:41
had sent a message saying that it was her son's art.
04:44
That he was in prison and if I minded her
04:47
sending that message and I was like no,
04:49
he's in America like he's not going to knock on my door
04:52
so what's the big deal you know.
04:54
She asked if I wanted to write him
04:58
or accept a letter from him and I said sure
05:00
and he wrote me and he explained that he was in prison
05:04
and he said that he was wrongfully convicted
05:07
and he also wrote about his art
05:09
and he told me he'd never been to Australia
05:11
and all these sorts of things.
05:13
So I wrote him back and yeah,
05:15
the next thing I got was a package
05:18
with police statements, trial transcripts,
05:21
you know to back up what he was saying basically
05:24
and yeah, I never put it down since.
05:28
When I was in Australia before I came to the US
05:30
we didn't have any phone calls
05:32
so it was only letters you know
05:34
and his ability to just kind of understand
05:36
what I was thinking or what kind of day I had
05:39
was incredible you know.
05:41
I said what are you working on now
05:42
and he said I'm working on Augusta have you heard of it,
05:45
it's a golf thing.
05:46
I know nothing about golf,
05:48
but then when he sent me the picture of it
05:51
I was just like this is it.
05:53
This is something that I could see him
05:55
just throwing himself into, but I never,
05:58
I never thought it would get to like this.
06:03
[Valentino] All I had was a drawing board
06:07
you know that was 16 x 20 drawing board
06:09
that I would sit on my lap
06:11
and I had the color pencils and the paper,
06:13
that was my studio.
06:17
So Valentino's mind was consumed with golf
06:19
for close to a decade, but he'd never played.
06:22
At the end of our first visit in Attica
06:24
when I said goodbye I made the promise
06:26
that when he got out I'd teach him to play golf
06:29
and give him his first lesson.
06:31
But in the back of my mind I knew that was more if.
06:37
Fore.
06:37
[Max] Nice.
06:39
I'm on a golf course golfing for the first time.
06:42
I'm in Mexico.
06:44
Look how beautiful this is in Mexico.
06:49
Don't ask me I'm just faking right now.
06:52
I'm just faking right now you know.
06:53
[laughing]
06:56
I've seen Tiger do this.
07:01
Oh wow.
07:04
I drew this.
07:07
I did draw this.
07:10
[Max] Yeah?
07:11
[Valentino] Yeah.
07:11
[Max] I thought you just made it up.
07:13
[Valentino] Naw, it's Puerto Vallarta.
07:15
[Max] That's where we are Punta Mita.
07:17
It's this right here.
07:18
[indistinct talking]
07:22
[Max] So for his first round of golf ever
07:24
we thought it'd be special to take him
07:26
to hold 3B at Punta Mita, which is this famous island green
07:30
called tail of the whale.
07:32
[Valentino] Oh that's beautiful.
07:33
[Max] You can only play it during low tide.
07:35
You made it on!
07:36
And as soon as we get there
07:38
I realize I've made a mistake.
07:39
The minimum carry is 185 yards
07:42
and Tino's just put his hands on a golf club
07:44
for the first time 20 minutes ago.
07:46
185 carry just ain't happening.
07:49
So I'm like come on man, let's go to the next hole
07:51
and he says no.
07:53
Look of full determination.
07:55
He says I'm going to put my ball in that cup,
07:58
which is beyond the cresting waves.
08:00
[laughing]
08:03
Dude the tide's coming in.
08:04
I don't know if we're going to make it.
08:06
We'll make it.
08:07
[Max] And with zero input or advice from me
08:10
he chips to the sand barge just short of the path
08:13
then uses his three wood to chip up the path
08:15
and counting drops makes legitimate 21 and he's thrilled.
08:22
[Both] 21.
08:24
21.
08:25
Let me say this.
08:27
I don't know any other golfer.
08:29
Right.
08:30
Who wouldn't have given up.
08:32
Okay.
08:33
You're the only person.
08:34
Right.
08:34
Who would ever finish this hole,
08:37
go through all that.
08:38
Okay, 21, took me 21 tries.
08:39
Amazing man, amazing.
08:41
It was a totally hopeless situation,
08:44
but with ultimate patience and persistence
08:47
he made it through and there's no more apt golf metaphor
08:50
for who Valentino Dixon is as a person.
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