DETROIT – "White Boy" Rick Wershe's closest family member was elated Friday when a parole board voted for his release after nearly 30 years in prison.
"It means the world to finally know that there's an end date in sight," said Gabby Wershe, Rick Wershe's niece.
Gabby Wershe said she's relieved that she won't have to put his birthday cards in the mail anymore. While her uncle was in jail, she said she talked to him every day.
Wershe was optimistic after the parole board hearing on June 8, but he said it was cautious optimism, since he's been let down before.
"You know, you hate to get your hopes up, and I knew that we could have gotten a no answer," Gabby Wershe said. "This is optimistic."
If the parole board had denied parole, Wershe would have been forced to wait five years for another parole hearing. He was denied parole in 2003 and didn't get another chance to plead his case until last month.
What turned it around this time?
"Seeing how many people are behind him and getting the facts straight and finally setting the record," Gabby Wershe said. "I think that brought a lot of light to his case and showed that he's served his time."
One of the things Wershe was supposed to prove was that he had learned his lesson, and he wouldn't commit further crimes if granted parole. He said all those things in 2003 but some police officers rallied against his release.
"There were a lot of things against him and a lot of facts that weren't right in the case," Gabby Wershe said. "Having those people come to light and speak on his behalf, and at the parole hearing, having him go over everything in front of the board and setting it straight for them. What you hear isn't always true, but having it come out of his mouth, I'm assuming it meant something to the board."
She said the family can't wait to see his reaction.
You can watch the first part of Kevin Dietz's interview with Gabby Wershe in the video posted at the top of the page. Part two of the interview is posted below.