(CHICAGO) — A Chicago man was released from prison on bond Tuesday after serving nearly 20 years due to his twin brother confessing to the crime.
Kevin Dugar walked out of Cook County Jail a free man at around 9:30 p.m., his lawyer told ABC News.
Dugar’s brother, Karl Smith, confessed he was the one to pull the trigger in a 2003 shooting on Chicago’s North Side, according to Chicago ABC station WLS. Dugar was convicted of the crime in 2005 and was serving a 54-year sentence.
Smith, who is currently serving a sentence of 99 years for a different shooting, first confessed to the murder in 2013, according to the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which partnered with Dugar’s lawyer to help free him. A judge did not believe Smith’s confession was credible and denied Dugar a new trial in 2018, according to WLS.
But on appeal, a new judge reviewed the confession and said Dugar should be released.
Dugar could still face a trial if the state does not drop the case, his lawyer, Ronald Safer, told ABC News.
“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 life outside of prison, according to his lawyer.
“Kevin is overjoyed to be free. But the adjustment is not easy. The wounds inflicted by wrongful incarceration are deep, broad and enduring,” Safer told ABC News.
“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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