After spending almost 30 years behind bars, Richard Wershe, aka "White Boy Rick", there's another turn in his saga as an appeals court ruled he won't be resentenced.
The appeals court ruled that a life sentence with the possibility of parole is Constitutional and reversed a resentencing order from earlier this month. Wayne County Judge Dana Hathaway had ruled that Wershe would be resentenced for the crime he was convicted of in 1988.
"It looks to me like it was a knee-jerk reaction by the Court of Appeals," said Ralph Musilli, Wershe's attorney. "Why they didn't consider it more is beyond me."
An appeals court judge overturned Hathaway's decision on Tuesday due to a "procedural issue". The appeals judge told Wershe that he had already been resentenced because he was originally sentenced to life without parole and it was then changed to life with parole.
According to the ruling, the court ordered that Hathaway did not address the legal standards on the appeal. Click here to read the ruling handed down on Tuesday.
Wershe was arrested for possessing 8 kilograms of cocaine in 1988 when he was 17 years old. He was sentenced to life without parole. But the law changed - converting all life without parole sentences to life with parole, meaning now, he doesn't get an automatic resentence.
Attorneys for Wershe said they are considering taking his case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Wayne County Prosecutor's office released this statement after the decision:
“The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has prevailed in the Michigan Court of Appeals and the defendant’s original sentence remains in effect,” said Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller.
The ruling also said that the parole board should be the one that lets Wershe out, not Hathaway.
"The parole board in one guise or another, has had Richard Wershe's case on their desk, six times in the last 12 years," Musilli said.
Wershe sued the parole board, but that is tangled up in federal court.
Rick Wershe was arrested at the age of 18 for moving eight kilos of cocaine. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1988.
Since then, life sentences for minors under the Michigan Constitution are no longer allowed. Although Wershe’s sentence was changed to allow the possibility of parole, he still sits behind bars.
In prison, Wershe cooperated with the FBI to help break up drug rings and solve other crimes. Yet each time Wershe has come up for parole, it's been denied.