Kym Worthy Rethinks Opposition to Freeing Rick Wershe

August 26, 2016, 5:05 PM by  Allan Lengel

Rick Wershe Jr. as a teen and now.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who has repeatedly fought the release of convicted drug dealer Richard Wershe Jr. -- nicknamed "White Boy Rick' --  is re-evaluating her position.

Worthy tells Kevin Dietz of WDIV: 

Having been deeply immersed in the Juvenile Life Without Parole murder cases for the last six months, I have noted parallels to the Richard Wershe case that have caused me to review the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office position in his case. However, it is important to note that only the Michigan Parole Board determines who does or doesn't receive parole."

Worthy's remark about juvenile lifers is a reference to U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2012 which said that mandatory life without parole for convicted teen murderers constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It said the convicts were to have a meaningful chance to obtain parole, but did not say it was guaranteed. 

The law has forced Worthy to review Wayne County murder cases involving teen lifers.

Wershe, as a teen, was originally sentenced to life without parole for drug trafficking in the late 1980s, but that was later changed to life with the possibility of parole. He has never been charged with a murder.

Some have argued that with Worthy's constant opposition, Wershe, 46, has been essentially serving a life sentence without parole.  

If she chooses not to oppose his parole, that could go a long way in convincing the parole board to set him free.

Over the years, the FBI and federal prosecutors, many of whom have since retired, have fought for Wershe to go free. But Worthy's opposition has proved powerful. 

Besides opposing his parole over the years, Worthy's office successfully appealed and blocked Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway last year from resentencing Wershe. In all likelihood, Hathaway would have resentenced him to time served and let him go free. 

Read more:  WDIV

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