DETROIT – Nearly 29 years into a lifetime prison sentence, "White Boy" Rick Wershe is scheduled to meet with a parole board member for an interview about his possible release, Local 4 Defender Kevin Dietz has learned.
Wershe wasn't expecting to hear from the Michigan Parole Board, but this surprise could change everything.
Wershe signed a notice Monday that he will meet one-on-one with a parole board member Feb. 13.
"This is a big deal," said Local 4 legal expert Neil Rockind. "It's the first step in Wershe getting paroled. He has to have the meeting. The meeting has to go well."
FULL COVERAGE: The story of 'White Boy' Rick
Wershe didn't want to comment Monday about the meeting. In past interviews, he said he is remorseful for selling drugs as a 17-year-old.
"I think about it every day," Wershe said. "If I had walked away from it ... I was a kid. I was stupid. I regret (it) every day."
Wershe was a police informant at the age of 14 -- paid by police to buy and sell drugs. At 17, he sold on his own and was caught with 17 pounds of cocaine.
From behind bars, he helped police bust more than a dozen dirty cops and drug dealers, but despite his cooperation, he remains locked up. He's the longest-serving non-violent juvenile offender in Michigan history.
"There is someone or something keeping me in prison, and it's not the crime I committed," Wershe said.
The Wayne Country Prosecutor's Office has constantly fought Wershe's release from prison. But this year, Kym Worthy said she changed her position and no longer objects to Wershe's released, removing one of the biggest hurdles to freedom.
The meeting will take place at Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee. The board member will then make a recommendation to a panel, which determines if Wershe will be released or passed up. For now, his attorneys are cautiously optimistic.
Factors that play into the final decision include:
- Is Wershe sorry?
- Has he changed?
- Does he have a safe place to live?
- Is there a job waiting for him?
Wershe said he is no longer the person known as "White Boy" Rick. In fact, Thursday his supporters are handing out holiday meals for the needy on Detroit's east side -- something Wershe organizes from behind bars.