DETROIT – Richard Wershe, a.k.a. "White Boy Rick," won't be re-sentenced for drug crimes he committed when he was 17 years old, the court of appeals ruled on Tuesday.
Wershe was a juvenile when he was convicted of possessing more than 650 grams of cocaine and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Earlier this month, Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway said the 46-year-old deserves a new sentence because he was sentenced at the age of 18 under an old law.
"The law that has been in existence since 2003 and allows for a person convicted of the defendant's crime to receive a sentence of life with the possibility of parole, a sentence of any number of years, or even a fine," Hathaway said. "Case law over the last decade demands that we treat juveniles constitutionally different than adults. That difference requires us to consider the defendant's age at the time that the crime was committed. The court is not ruling that a life sentence for this crime is unconstitutional, it is simply saying that he's entitled to be re-sentenced given the circumstances."
The court of appeals issued a stay order which gave both sides more time to argue why Wershe does or does not deserve to be resentenced after 28 years in prison.
The court of appeals' new ruling came down on Tuesday (view the document below, or click here to view it).
Prosecutors had faught to keep him behind bars and immediately appealed Hathaway's ruling.
"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.
Wershe: 'I expected it, to be honest'
Local 4 spoke with Wershe after Tuesday's news broke.
"I'm disappointed, let down a little bit, but I expected it, to be honest with you," he said. "After all this time in here you don't believe you are going to get out of here until the day you walk out of here. I'll keep fighting until my dying breath."
He maintains police were reponsible for his path to drug dealing.
"They have never taken into account that I was a juvenile and law enforcement got me involved in it," said Wershe.
Complete Coverage: White Boy Rick
Wershe started working as informant at age 14
Wershe has served more prison time than any other non-violent juvenile offender in Michigan. At age 14, police were paying Wershe to rat-out neighborhood drug dealers. When someone he snitched on got suspicious and had him shot, police abandoned him. So he started selling drugs for real and in a year's time he was caught, convicted, and nicknamed "White Boy Rick."
Twenty-eight years later, Rick Wershe is still in prison.