A man who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit has been released. Kevin Dugar was sentenced to prison for a 2003 gang-related shooting in Chicago that left one person dead and another person injured.
Ten years later, Dugar’s twin brother, Karl Smith, wrote him a letter confessing to the murder.
“I have to get it off my chest before it kills me,” Smith wrote to his brother. “So I’ll just come clean and pray you can forgive me.”
Despite the confession, Dugar remained in jail. In 2018, a judge ruled that Smith’s confession was “completely unreliable,” citing the fact that Smith was serving a 99-year prison sentence for a home invasion and robbery in which a six-year-old boy was shot in the head.
The Northwest Center of Wrongful Convictions appealed the decision on Dugar’s behalf, and his conviction was reversed by the Court of Appeals.
Dugar was released from prison but must spend 90 days in a residential transition facility.
Prosecutors have not said if they plan to drop the case. Dugar’s attorney, Ron Safer, told the Chicago Tribune he hopes that after reviewing the facts, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office will decide against trying to hold another trial to convict his client.
“This case is in a very different situation than it was 20 years ago,” Safer said. “Everybody knows much more about it.”