The Buffalo News

Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The judge from Valentino Dixon's 1992 murder trial Monday rejected his bid for a new trial, citing prosecution contentions that Dixon and his family tried to talk or bribe at least two others into confessing to the machine-gun slaying of Torriano Jackson.
Senior Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico denied Dixon's request for  a hearing and told Dixon he can seek permission to argue the case before the same Rochester appellate court that upheld his conviction in 1995. Dixon's relatives reportedly have collected more than 800 signatures on a petition seeking a new trial on the grounds that witnesses now say he wasn't the shooter and that another man recently told The Buffalo News that he committed the crime.
Dixon, 34, was convicted of fatally shooting Jackson at Bailey and East
Delavan avenues about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 10, 1991. He is serving a sentence of 39 years to life in Attica Correctional Facility.
Gregory McPhee said he and Sean D. Hill, Dixon's lawyers, will file motions seeking to appeal D'Amico's ruling to the state's higher courts, alleging that it is based on erroneous prosecution claims.
D'Amico rejected the defense claim of ineffective assistance from his trial attorney, Joseph J. Terranova. The judge held that the veteran trial attorney's decision not to call any defense witnesses was justified, and that he "provided the level of representation to which the defendant was constitutionally entitled."
Though Lamarr Scott, who is serving a prison term for unrelated Buffalo
crimes, now insists he killed Jackson -- and confessed to Buffalo police two days after the shooting -- he recanted that claim when taken before the grand jury that indicted Dixon, the judge noted.
Scott has claimed that he was pressured by police and prosecutors to change his story after two other men were indicted on perjury charges for telling the grand jury Scott was the killer.
D'Amico also cited prosecutors' contentions that three eyewitnesses fingered Dixon as the shooter and that Scott's grand jury "recantation" was "consistent with the testimony of other eyewitnesses." And he pointed to prosecutors' contentions that Dixon's father "persuaded Scott to falsely admit to the crime" and that Dixon "offered $3,000" to a second man, now cited as a witness for the defense, to "admit responsibility for the crimes."
The Dixon family has acknowledged talking with Scott and the other two
witnesses before the three went to the police station but has denied
applying undue pressure or offering bribes to lie about the case. D'Amico said he also found "serious credibility issues" with four other prospective Dixon witnesses who would have tried to incriminate Scott.
The judge also rejected as "inadmissible hearsay" a decade worth of
post-trial investigation for the Dixon family conducted by private
investigator Roger Putnam, who located and interviewed witnesses who were never called. The defense team said it came up with eight witnesses who could exonerate Dixon and one prosecution witness who later said he lied during the trial.

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Innocent Imprisoned
Truth in Justice