A Chicago man who spent two decades behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit has been released from jail.
Kevin Dugar, 43, was released from the Cook County Jail on Tuesday — 9 years after his twin brother, Karl Smith, confessed to the murder that put Kevin behind bars.
“Kevin’s feeling great,” his attorney, Ron Safer, told ABC7 News Tuesday night. “He’s a free man tonight. It’s long overdue.”
“He walked out into the open air and breathed his first breaths as a free man in almost 20 years. It was gratifying to watch his tears roll down his cheeks and their cheeks before (the tears) froze on their faces because it was about 7 below.”
Kevin Dugar was convicted of killing a rival gang member in 2005. He was sentenced to 54 years in prison, according to PEOPLE.
But in 2013, Kevin’s born-again twin brother, Karl Smith, wrote him a letter in prison, confessing to the murder, the NY Daily News reports.
“I have to get it off my chest before it kills me,” Smith wrote. “So I’ll just come clean and pray you can forgive me.”
Karl was already serving a 99-year-sentence in prison for a home invasion and armed robbery that left a child dead, the Chicago Tribune reports.
However, the prosecutor didn’t buy Karl’s confession. And another decade went by before the wheels of justice slowly turned in Kevin’s direction.
Kevin still has to prove his innocence at a later court date. But for now, he is a free man.
“We are gratified that Judge Hooks carefully weighed all factors and released Kevin pending trial,” attorney Safer tells PEOPLE.
“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.”