DETROIT - For decades Richard Wershe Jr. was denied parole while the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office insisted the man known as "White Boy Rick" did not deserve to get out of prison.
As the longest serving non-violent juvenile offender in Michigan history, people started asking questions Why was this man who was busted at 17 years old for trafficking drugs still in prison at age 48?
For the first time Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is speaking about Wershe's time in prison. When she took office Wershe had served 15 years for possession of 8 kilos of cocaine. When his number came up for consideration, Worthy learned he pleaded guilty to being involved in a stolen car theft ring while behind bars.
"Even after all this time, after all this time has passed, is it still someone who can be law-abiding based on his prison conduct? I said no," said Worthy.
The documentary "White Boy" suggests it may have really been Worthy's relationship with Gill Hill.
"I quite frankly met him when the rest of America met him when I saw 'Beverly Hills Cop,'" said Worthy.
Hill was a homicide cop in Detroit who landed a popular role in the Eddie Murphy movie. He went on to become a powerful Detroit City Council president.
"It was strictly a friendship. He was someone I admired greatly. He was head of homicide and I supported him in his run for mayor," said Worthy.
Over the years, Wershe has said he believes Hill was behind his record-setting incarceration.
"I think there is no doubt that it's related to my cooperation about Gill Hill and about police corruption in Detroit," said Wershe.
Wershe helped the FBI catch more than a dozen dirty Detroit cops. he also told the FBI that Hill took bribes. Worthy said she would never punish Wershe for her friend.
"We never even talked about the case. I never made any promises to him about anything. And even if he was my best friend I would never do that for anyone. The day you start compromising your cases, your beliefs, when you have a job like this, that's the day you need to quit," she said.
Worthy insists Hill never asked her to keep Wershe locked up.
"There is only one person who asked me to do a favor like that and that was Kwame Kilpatrick, and that was a very short phone call," she said.
Eventually Worthy had a change of heart. In 2016 the Supreme Court ordered all prosecutors to look at juvenile lifer murder cases.
"When you compare someone who tortures a 9-month-old baby or someone who kills four people, and you look and you try to compare, when this case kept coming up, then I had to take a second look," she said.
Wershe was paroled in Michigan just shy of 30 years. However, he did not go free. He went to Florida to serve five more years for his part in the car theft ring.
"If he committed a crime then he should be serving whatever punishment was meted out for him, if he committed a crime," said Worthy.
Wershe spoke with Local 4 from his prison in Florida right after this interview with Worthy. He does not agree with everything the prosecutor says but said he is focused on the future. That means he is doing everything he can to get released as soon as possible. Twice a year he raises money to give food away in the Detroit neighborhood where he grew up. The next one is June 26.
As for Kilpatrick's request, Worthy said he made it for a friend early in his political career. She said Kilpatrick got the message that this wasn't how her office was run. She said he received a hard "no" from her.
Gill Hill died in 2016 at the age of 84.
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