Kevin Dugar: Convicted killer, 44, released after 20 years as his TWIN confesses to murder
On Wednesday, January 26, Kevin Dugar, a 44-year-old man was finally released from Chicago's Cook County Jail, nine years after his twin brother Karl Smith, also 44, confessed to the gang-related 2003 slaying in a letter to Dugar in 2013. After his twin brother confessed to the crime, Kevin who was wrongfully convicted of murder was released from prison after 20 years. In 2013, Smith wrote: "I have to get it off my chest before it kills me. So I'll just come clean and hope you can forgive me."
In spite of the confession, Kevin was denied a retrial in 2018, after Karl confessed to the murder while serving a 99-year sentence for a 2008 house invasion in which a six-year-old child was shot in the head. Kevin was denied a retrial or release despite Karl signing a sworn declaration and contacting Kevin's lawyers at his brother's request.
Karl testified that he had left a party and was on his way to buy pot when the shooting occurred and that he and a companion drove to a liquor store before coming home. Later, he would change and go clubbing with his brother. He then admitted that he didn't testify during his brother's trial because he didn't believe he'd be found guilty. He said that after being convicted of the home invasion, he "met God in prison" and felt compelled to put things right.
Nonetheless, the judge deemed Karl's confessional "completely unreliable," citing the twins' alleged practice of impersonating each other, as well as a "pattern of misdirection and deceit". Karl confessed to the murder in 2016, saying, "I'm here to confess to a crime I committed that he (Kevin) was wrongly accused of."
According to their mother, the twins dressed similarly until eighth grade, sharing socks, shoes, and even sandwiches, and were frequently seen as "one person". Karl had problems recognizing himself in photographs shown during his 2016 testimony. Judy Dugar, whose maiden name is Smith, was present at Karl's testimony that year and apparently felt betrayed by the prosecution's refusal to believe her son's confession. She stated, "He wouldn't lie about that."
After the Center on Wrongful Convictions filed an appeal, the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals. A new judge told the Chicago Tribune that after hearing further evidence, a jury would most certainly change its mind.
According to ABC 7, Kevin's lawyer Ron Safer has stated that they do not want his case retried. At a press conference, Ron stated, "This case is in a very different situation than it was 20 years ago. Everybody knows much more about it." As part of his release conditions, Kevin will spend 90 days in a residential transitional facility, and he was embraced by his family outside the jail.
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