Judge officiates wedding for man he sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison

MILWAUKEE (WTMJ/CNN) – A Wisconsin man was sentenced to almost 50 years in prison for the deaths of four people.

He was back in court Wednesday in front of the same judge who sentenced him, but instead of waiting for a conviction, he was ready for a celebration.

In 1995, Ramiah Whiteside’s voice cracked during his sentencing in Judge David Hansher’s courtroom. He apologized for fleeing from Milwaukee police and crashing into a bus stop, killing four people.

"I won't be able to bring these people back, but I'm sorry," Whiteside said at the time.

Hansher sentenced Whiteside to the maximum of 47 years.

Now out on parole, Whiteside asked that Hansher officiate his wedding. Hansher married Whiteside and his fiancée Carla on Wednesday.

“It was kind of spontaneous, but I planned on doing it because for me, that’s full circle,” Whiteside said.

Hansher was told about Whiteside’s progress years after the sentencing. The two began writing each other and Hansher eventually pushed for Whiteside’s parole, which Whiteside was granted this year.

Lucy Farris, whose son Clifton Bernard was killed in the bus stop crash, said time has allowed her to forgive Whiteside and even to wish him happiness.

"I pray that he will enjoy the blessing of his family,” she said. “I've learned to be thankful to God for what he gave me, and that was 19 years, six days, 12 hours and so many minutes of life with my son."

Whiteside acknowledged that it is impossible to reverse what happened decades ago, but he said he plans to dedicate the rest of his life to positively impacting the lives of others.

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