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Man Released From Prison After 20 Years Because His Twin Confessed To His Crime In 2013
Kevin Dugar was released from prison after serving 20 years for a shooting to which his twin brother, Karl Smith, confessed nearly 10 years ago.
A Chicago man has been released from prison this week — nearly 10 years after his twin brother confessed to the murder.
Kevin Dugar broke down into tears as he was released from Cook County Jail on Tuesday night, NBC News reports.
His attorney Ronald Safer told the outlet that "the judge granted his release pending trial on a signature bond and he walked out into the open air and breathed his first breaths as a free man in almost 20 years.”
Safer said that it was “gratifying” to “watch his tears roll down his cheeks.” He tweeted that, along with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, he “successfully won the release” of his client “after 20 years of wrongful imprisonment for a crime he did not commit.”
The release comes nine years after Dugar’s twin brother Karl Smith confessed to being the true triggerman behind the 2003 shooting that killed Antwan Carter and wounded Ronnie Bolden, WLS and NBC Chicago reported.
Smith was serving a 99-year prison sentence for a 2007 home invasion and armed robbery in which a 6-year-old boy was shot in the head when he confessed to the earlier crime via a letter to his brother in 2013.
“I credit what he said, that it had been weighing on him since Kevin was arrested," Safer told Oxygen.com via a phone call on Friday. "He was self-medicating and just couldn't bear it anymore."
Smith also claimed in his letter that he'd thought Dugar would be acquitted in the shooting, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2016. Instead, he was sentenced to 54 years,
It then took three years for the confession to be heard before a judge, Safer told Oxygen.com.
In 2018, a judge called Smith's confession not credible — but the Northwest Center of Wrongful Convictions appealed, WLS reported. A judge reviewed the case on Tuesday, leading to the release.
Safer told Oxygen.com that he is "hopeful" that Cook County State's Attorney's Office will review the evidence and throw out the case, rather than making his client face a retrial.
“If not, we are prepared to go to trial and vindicate him because he is innocent," he said.
For now, the lawyer said that Dugar is focusing on "readjusting to the world."
"The world is so different than the world he left 20 years ago. Cell phones weren’t prevalent back then and now nobody can live without their phone. That’s just one example of how the world is so tremendously different than when he left," he said, adding that while there is “joy,” his client is undertaking “an extraordinarily difficult transition.”
“The wounds that are inflicted by wrongful convictions are deep and broad and they are enduring," he said. "They do not go away in days or months or years."