Man Released From Prison After His Twin Confesses

Kevin Dugar spent nearly 20 years behind bars after a murder conviction
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Suggested by ThingsChange
Posted Sep 25, 2016 12:10 PM CDT
Updated Jan 27, 2022 2:34 PM CST
Twin of Man Jailed for Murder Since '03: I Did It
Karl Smith, left, and identical twin Kevin Dugar.   (Illinois Department of Corrections)

Update: Kevin Dugar is out of prison for the first time nearly 20 years after a bizarre twist in his case. Dugar was convicted of murder, but he was released from Cook County jail in Chicago on Wednesday because his identical twin brother belatedly confessed to the crime, reports Fox News. Prosecutors say they think the brother, Karl Smith, falsely confessed because he was imprisoned for life anyway in a separate crime. However, Dugar's conviction has been reversed, and it was not immediately clear whether Dugar would be retried. Our original story from 2016 follows:

Karl Smith took the witness stand last week in Illinois and dropped a bomb on a Cook County courtroom as the twin brother he hadn't seen in years looked on: "I'm here to confess to a crime I committed that he was wrongly accused of," Smith said. The part of the story that makes it especially dicey, reports the Chicago Tribune, is that Smith's identical twin, Kevin Dugar, has been jailed for the murder of a rival gang member since 2003. (The brothers have different last names because Smith adopted his mother's maiden name.) Authorities are skeptical, however. They say Smith is falsely confessing because he has exhausted his own appeal of a 99-year sentence for a 2008 home invasion and figures he may as well take the fall for his bother.

Smith's "got nothing to lose," an assistant state's attorney says, adding that the confession doesn't mesh with eyewitness accounts. Smith, though, says he let his brother sit in prison because "I didn't have the strength to come forward" and because "I thought it was the job of the police to catch me." He contends that he decided to come forward after a religious conversion. A judge will decide if Dugar will get a new trial. Says Smith's mother: "He wouldn't lie about that." The bizarre nature of the case is drawing widespread attention, with coverage in the American Bar Association's ABA Journal and oversesa outlets including ITV News ("shocking") Australia's Perth Now ("stunning"). (In France, authorities struggled to figure out which twin was a rapist.)

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