A former Louisville Metro Police homicide detective accused of coercing confessions, making up statements and ignoring exculpatory evidence in three separate murder cases was sentenced Tuesday.
The accusations against Mark Handy led to four overturned convictions. On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to perjury and tampering with evidence. Each charge carried one year of jail time. Because the sentences will be served concurrently, Handy is only facing one year in prison.
Handy was indicted on charges of perjury and tampering with physical evidence in September 2018 following a series of investigations. The Louisville Metro Council asked the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.
On June 3, 2020, Handy agreed to the plea deal on a perjury charge. The recommended sentence was five years in prison that would be probated for five years.
Attorneys for both sides acknowledged Handy’s false statements and mishandling of critical evidence were vital in the wrongful convictions.
However, during a hearing on August 27, 2020, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens rejected the plea deal saying it would decrease the seriousness of Handy’s crime and make it appear to the public that Handy was getting special treatment. Handy then withdrew his guilty plea, which led to the case to be decided by a jury.
One of the men who was falsely convicted, Edwin Chandler, was at Handy’s sentencing and addressed the court.
Chandler was convicted in the September 1993 murder of Brenda Whitfield, 25. Whitfield was shot during a robbery at a Chevron gas station where she worked.
Former Louisville Metro Police homicide detective Denny Butler re-investigated Chandler’s case in 2008. He said he found lies and evidence that then-detective Handy coerced Chandler to falsely confess.
Chandler went on to sue the city of Louisville and received an $8.5 million settlement. Alongside Chandler, several others said they have pending federal civil rights lawsuits filed against Handy themselves that are waiting results.