DETROIT, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A Detroit drug dealer sent to prison in the 1980s, at the age of 18, won his fight Friday for a new sentence -- after a judge decided that current Michigan laws have changed too much to permit his existing punishment to stand.
Richard Wershe, Jr., known as "White Boy Rick," has been appealing his punishment because the state of Michigan handles convicted minors differently today than it did in 1988 -- when he was given 30 years to life without parole.
Wershe, who was 17 when he was arrested, will appear in court Sept. 18 to hear his new sentence, the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.
"The court is not ruling that a parolable life sentence for this crime is unconstitutional. It's simply saying that he's entitled to be resentenced with consideration given to his youth and circumstances surrounding the crime," the judge said.
"If the defendant were to be resentenced today for the crime he committed in 1987, his potential guidelines in this case are as low as 42-70 months," she added, in a document obtained by the Pree Press. "It is highly unlikely the defendant would have received a life sentence if 'any number of years' was an option."
Also in the courtroom with Wershe Friday were his mother and 27-year-old son -- who has never seen his father outside of prison.
Prosecutors said they will appeal Friday's decision to a higher court. If that appeal is successful, the resentencing will be scrapped. Prosecutors also filed an emergency motion to suspend the Sept. 18 hearing, claiming the judge Friday had no authority to order the resentencing.
"The action of the circuit court here is the wrong relief, in the wrong forum, for the wrong reasons," the emergency filing said. "It should be promptly reversed."