true crime

Louise Dixon married a man who was serving a life sentence. Last week, he walked free.

Valentino Dixon spent 27 years behind bars for a murder he says he did not commit.

For half of that time, he was married to an Australian woman named Louise Dixon. She lives in Sydney.

In 1991, Valentino, now 48, was sentenced to life in prison for the death of teenager, Torriano Jackson.

In August of the same year, both Valentino and Torriano were at a loud street party in Buffalo, New York, when a disagreement over a girl turned into a gun fight.

Louise and Valentino discuss their unusual path to romance on ABC’s 7.30…

Torriano was killed on the spot and an anonymous tip wrongly pointed the finger at Valentino as the culprit.

Despite his friend, Lamaar Scott, confessing to the murder on tape, Valentino was convicted and sentenced to 39 years to life in prison.

Valentino became interested in art during his time in prison. At the insistence of his prison superintendent, he painted some pictures of Augusta National Golf Course and sent them to Golf Digest.

The magazine then became interested in his case and then the Golf Channel ran a story on him.

These golf media outlets, alongside two college professors and three law students, worked to help free Valentino.

This is how Louise came to meet the man who would become her husband. She came across his illustrations online and decided to write to him.

The couple discuss their unusual path to romance on ABC‘s 7.30 on Wednesday night.

“I never looked at Valentino as a murderer, ever,” Louise tells 7.30.

“I met Louise, she wrote me, we became friends, pen pals, you know,” Valentino explains.

“We wrote for quite a bit of time, and she decided that she wanted to come meet me.”

Louise was convinced Valentino was innocent, so she flew to the US to meet him in person.

“The minute I met him I really knew everything he has written me, everything he had said, it was genuine, and from that moment forwards I was just like, ‘I’m in for the ride’,” she tells the program.

The couple married in prison in 2002 and were able to spend some time together.

“The prison allows for couples to be together if I completed a certain amount of programs and stay out of trouble,” Valentino explains.

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“We were together as man and wife — we had that opportunity.”

After overstaying her visa, Louise was deported back to Australia in 2006. They have not seen each other for 12 years.

Last week, Valentino pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and walked free from prison.

“So many times I’ve come close [to giving up], but God kept giving me the strength to keep on and now I know why,” Valentino told Golf Digest just hours before he was released.

However, sadly, Valentino remains separated from Louise. Because the Sydneysider overstayed her visa she cannot visit the United States, and Valentino’s conviction means he has travel restrictions in Australia.

But the couple are determined to make things work.

“She’s sent me a ton of pictures. You know, I’ve seen the Opera House, I know about Bondi Beach, I’ve seen pictures of that and it’s a beautiful place,” Valentino told 7.30.

“I just look forward to having an opportunity to be over there.”

You can watch Andy Park’s story on Valentino and Louise Dixon tonight on 7.30 on ABC.

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