38-year old Kevin Dugar was convicted of first-degree murder for killing a man named Antwan Carter and wounding another man, Ronnie Bolden.
Dugar was first convicted of the crime in 2005 and has served 13 years of his 54-year prison sentence at Statesville Correctional Center in Greater Chicago, Illinois.
But now, the Chicago Tribune reports Dugar’s identical twin brother, Karl Smith (who adopted his mother’s maiden name), has come forward and confessed to the crime of which his brother was convicted.
If a judge determines Smith’s confession is credible, his brother will receive a new trial and have the opportunity to be released from custody.
The murder for which Dugar is serving time occurred in 2003. According to The Chicago Tribune:
“A gunman dressed in black shot into a group of three people near Sheridan Road and Argyle Street in March 2003, killing Antwan Carter and wounding Ronnie Bolden.
“Bolden, who was shot three times, later identified the gunman as ‘Twin,’ the street name used by Smith and Dugar, who frequently impersonated each other.
“At trial, Bolden admitted that he didn’t identify Dugar as the gunman for more than a month after the shooting because he planned to settle the matter ‘on the street,’ according to Dugar’s petition for the post-conviction hearing. Bolden was a member of Black P Stones, a gang then feuding with the twins’ gang, the Conservative Vice Lords.
“Bolden identified Dugar in a photo lineup that did not include Smith, according to the petition. The other eyewitness, Monique Boykins, who was 16 at the time of the shooting, recanted at trial and testified Bolden told her to identify Dugar as the gunman to police.”
Smith wrote to his brother in 2013 and confessed he had been the gunman. He then signed a sworn statement confessing to the crime in 2014.
But the intriguing part of this story is that Smith is also currently incarcerated.
Smith is serving a 99-year sentence for his involvement in a 2008 home invasion and armed robbery which resulted in the death of a 6-year old boy after being shot in the head.
Smith’s confession to his brother and the courts came after he lost an appeal to his own conviction.
The Chicago Tribune goes on to report:
“Dugar had asked his brother if he had been the gunman before the trial, Smith testified Thursday, but he said he denied it at the time.
“Smith said he never told anyone he committed the homicide until he wrote his brother a letter three years ago.
“’I have to get it off my chest before it kills me,’ Smith wrote in tiny handwriting to fit as much as he could on each page. ‘So I’ll just come clean and pray you can forgive me. … I’m the one who and shot and killed those two Black Stones on Sheridan that night.’
“When Smith didn’t hear back from his brother, he wrote him again a few weeks later in October 2013, confessing to the murder again and asking for his brother’s forgiveness.
“’The reason I didn’t say (expletive) at the time was because I didn’t and couldn’t find the strength to do so at the time,’ Smith said in the letter, admitted into evidence.
“This time, Dugar wrote back and asked Smith to contact his lawyers. Smith signed a sworn statement confessing to the murder in 2014.”
Dugar’s prosecutors and other skeptics of his brother’s confession argue that Smith has nothing to lose by confessing, since his appeal for his own 99-year prison sentence fell through.
The twins’ mother, Judy Dugar, wept while looking on at the Leighton Criminal Court Building last Thursday when Karl Smith made his confession public. She does not doubt that Smith’s new confession is true, saying, “He wouldn’t lie about that.”
“Dugar’s lawyer, Karen Daniel, a Northwestern University law school professor who directs its Center on Wrongful Convictions, said the evidence against Dugar was razor-thin — no confession or physical evidence but the testimony of two eyewitnesses, including one who recanted at trial.”
It isn’t unprecedented that individuals may be accused or even convicted of crimes committed by their siblings.
Also according to the Chicago Tribune:
“Michael Winston was released from prison in 2012 after six years behind bars for a South Side murder after his older brother, Robert, who looked similar, confessed that he was the actual killer, said Winston’s attorney, Jeffrey Urdangen”.
“And in New Mexico, shortly after Joseph Montoya was convicted of second-degree murder in 2000, his identical brother, Jeremy, came forward to claim he was the actual killer. But the trial judge and appeals courts rejected the claim, finding the twins had ‘colluded,’ according to court records.”
Karl Smith and Kevin Dugar seem to have been very close as youths.
“The two brothers, who dressed alike until eighth grade and impersonated each other for years afterward, still looked identical Thursday with their shaved heads and close-cropped beards. Only their clashing prison clothes set them apart…”
“Growing up, the twins were closer than brothers — they were ‘one person’ who shared socks, shoes and even sandwiches, according to their mother and Smith.”