Man released after nearly 20 years in prison due to twin confessing to murder
CHICAGO - A man was released from prison on bond after serving almost 20 years for a murder his twin brother confessed to committing.
Kevin Dugar was freed from the Cook County Jail around 9:30 p.m., his lawyer told ABC News.
Dugar's twin, Karl Smith, confessed to his role in a 2003 fatal shooting on Chicago's North Side, but Dugar was convicted of the crime in 2005. He was set to serve a 54-year sentence.
Smith, who is currently serving a sentence of 99 years for a separate shooting, confessed to the murder in 2013, according to the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
A judge did not trust the credibility of Smith's confession, and Dugar was denied a new trial in 2018.
The Center on Wrongful Convictions worked with Dugar's lawyer Ronald Safer to appeal the verdict. Eventually, a new judge reviewed Smith's confession and said Dugar should be released.
As CWC client, Kevin Dugar, pulled away from Cook County Jail, he enjoyed a plateful of chicken wings- his first meal back in the free world. pic.twitter.com/Rndkqy9Ez9— CenterOnWrongfulConvictions (@NorthwesternCWC) January 27, 2022
Dugar could still face a trial if the state does not drop the case, according to Safer.
"We are gratified that Judge [William] Hooks carefully weighed all factors and released Kevin pending trial," Safer said. "I am hopeful that the state will do the right thing and dismiss Kevin's case."
"If not, we will prevail at trial because Kevin is innocent," Safer added.
Dugar is now adjusting to his life outside of prison, according to Safer.
"Kevin is overjoyed to be free. But the adjustment is not easy. The wounds inflicted by wrongful incarceration are deep, broad and enduring," Safer said.
"People think there would be unmitigated joy over being free after 20 years. There is joy, but it comes with a host of emotions," Safer added. "It is a difficult adjustment, but Kevin is strong and he will persevere just as he has all these years because there is strength in knowing you are innocent."
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