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A man who was convicted of murder and spent almost two decades in prison has been released after his twin brother confessed to the crime.
Kevin Dugar, 44, was convicted of a 2003 gang-related killing but in 2013 his twin brother Karl Smith confessed to the crime - writing a letter to his brother in which he said: “I have to get it off my chest before it kills me. So I'll just come clean and pray you can forgive me.”
Smith signed a sworn statement and contacted Dugar’s lawyers - even telling a judge in 2016: “I’m here to confess to a crime I committed that he [Dugar] was wrongly accused of.”
When asked why he hadn’t spoken up during his brother’s trial Smith said he didn’t believe Dugar would be convicted.
However, despite Smith’s confession Dugar was refused a retrial in as his admission came while he was serving a 99-year sentence for a home invasion that ended with a six-year-old child being shot in the head but survived.
Assistant State’s Attorney Carol Rogala told the 2018 hearing that Smith had ‘got nothing to lose’ due to the lengthy sentence he was serving.
The judge later ruled that Smith’s confession wasn’t credible and refused to grant a retrial.
The twins’ mother Judy Dugar said Smith ‘wouldn’t lie about that’.
This decision was appealed by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University and a judge began to re-examine the case.
And on Tuesday Dugar was released from the Cook County Jail in Chicago after a motion for bond was granted.
His lawyer Ronald Safer told the New York Post: “He is overjoyed to be free but is also adjusting to a world that is quite different from the world he left 20 years ago when he was arrested for this crime he did not commit.”
Safer added: “The Court of Appeals found that there is a strong probability that a jury hearing all of the evidence would likely find Kevin not guilty.”
His team are now hoping that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office will drop the case entirely after reviewing the evidence.
Safer said: “We are hopeful that the State does the right thing and dismisses this case. But if the State persists, we look forward to vindicating Kevin at trial.”
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