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.)