Free At Last!

It’s overwhelming!” a grateful Barbara Dixon told the Challenger. “ I just knew it was going to come one day. I praise God and I thank all the people who helped us.”

The “one day” she was referring to took place today (September 19) when her son, Valentino Dixon, was finally released from prison after serving 26 years for a crime he did not commit.

“All the charges have been dismissed!” she continued. “This will let the public know that Valentino had nothing to do with the shooting that night of August 10, 1991.

” That will be a night Mrs. Dixon will never forget. A shoot out at Delavan and Bailey left 17-year-old Torriano Jackson dead, two others critically wounded and a bystander injured by a stray bullet.

The police arrested Dixon and charged him with murdering Torriano and shooting the other three victims. Valentino became a suspect because of an anonymous tip that falsely said he shot Torriano over a girl. But just two days after the shooting, Lamarr Scott confessed to shooting Torriano Jackson in self-defense! Detective Mark Stambach took Lamarr’s statement, but Lamarr was not taken into custody.

Despite the real shooter’s confession the detective continued to pursue Valentino and built a case against him. A jury found Valentino guilty and he was sentenced to 33 years to life. He was 21 years old.

There was no forensic evidence, no physical evidence, several eye witnesses, a confession by the real killer and no murder weapon tying Dixon to the crime.

Valentino has never made excuses for his past life in the streets as a young man, but he and others have maintained throughout his ordeal that he is not a killer.

Valentino, an accomplished artist, gained national attention for his work after Golf Digest magazine did a story about him. He was a model inmate who spent all but the last eight months of his 33-year to life sentence at the notorious Attica Prison before being transferred to Wende Correctional Facility.

Valentino is Barbara Dixon’s only child. She said there is talk about a movie on his life, a possible book offer, and Golf Digest may be planning a follow up story. But for now, her advice to him she said, is just to take his time. His freedom is all that matters right now. “There is a God!” she said.