A Chicago man who spent 19 years in prison for murder over a 2003 shooting has been released after his identical twin brother confessed to the killing, per reports.
Kevin Dugar, 44, walked out of the Cook County prison a free man on Tuesday night and broke down into tears when he was reunited with his family, his lawyer told NBC News.
“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 a crime he did not commit,” his lawyer, Ronald Safer, told the New York Post.
Dugar spent nearly two decades in prison after being convicted in the deadly shooting of a rival gang member in Chicago’s North Side. A gunman opened fire on three people, killing Antwan Carter and wounding Ronnie Bolden, per NBC Chicago.
Dugar was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 54 years in prison, maintaining his innocence throughout. According to The Guardian, Dugar once declined a generous plea bargain because he refused to admit to something he did not do.
The Guardian reported that 10 years ago, Dugar asked his identical twin brother Karl Smith if he was responsible for the murder, and Smith denied it. But Smith wrote a letter to him in 2013, finally admitting that he was responsible for pulling the trigger. “I have to get it off my chest before it kills me,” Smith wrote, per The Times.
Three years later, in 2016, Smith told a court that he was responsible for the shooting, The Times reported.
A judge ruled in 2018 that Smith’s admission of guilt was not credible and declined to allow Dugar a new trial, NBC News said. At the time, Smith was serving a 99-year sentence for a home invasion that saw a six-year-old child shot in the head. Prosecutors denied an appeal because they said that Smith had “nothing to lose” in admitting to the murder, The Times reported.
Another judge reviewed the case, and Dugar’s conviction was later reversed by the Court of Appeals, following an appeal by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, per reports. According to MailOnline, Dugar will stay at a transitional residential facility for 90 days.