LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A former Louisville Metro police detective accused of sending four innocent men to prison has been sentenced to one year in jail.
Mark Handy pleaded guilty to one count of perjury and one count of tampering with evidence in a plea agreement made in April 2021. He will not seek probation.
Handy was accused of lying on the stand during the 1995 murder trial of Edwin Chandler, accused of murdering Brenda Whitfield in 1993. According to the prosecution, Handy lied on the witness stand, taped over evidence and coerced a false confession from Chandler.
Chandler was wrongfully convicted and served 10 years in prison. He was cleared in 2009 and exonerated in 2012, with the Louisville Metro Government paying him $8.5 million as part of a settlement.
"I can't say that it feels good or it feels bad. There's no winner in this. There are no winners in this at all," Chandler said after the hearing. "The magnitude and the weight of this is immeasurable. We'll never be able to get back what we lost in this."
Handy did not speak to any of the victims, several whom were sitting in the courtroom. His attorney, Brian Butler, said he hopes this result will bring closure to both Chandler and Handy.
"He [Handy] wanted to be done with this," Butler said. "Obviously he feels horrible that Edwin Chandler went to prison for something he didn't do, and Mark wanted to take responsibility for that."
"There's not a whole lot of words that can be said," Handy said in August. "I'm sorry. I pray that he can forgive me someday and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to make amends."
Chandler attended Handy's sentencing, and said he was disappointed in the justice system for not taking action against him sooner. Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine declined to prosecute Handy in 2016 and the U.S. Attorney's Office also dropped Handy's case in 2017.
In 2018, Louisville Metro Council voted to ask Andy Beshear, then Kentucky's attorney general, to appoint a special prosecutor, which led Beshear to assign Shane Young to Handy's case and a grand jury indictment.
"They protected a white officer — and for what? My life don't matter? Evidently it don't because it's taken 30 years," Chandler said.
Although Chandler had agreed to the terms of the plea agreement, he said Handy's one-year prison sentence pales in comparison to the suffering inflicted on him and the other victims of the former police detective.
"For me, no, a year is not enough," he said. "I explained that in the court I'm not happy with my justice system. I'm not."
The tampering with evidence charge is connected to the case of Keith West, a man convicted of manslaughter who was pardoned by former Gov. Matt Bevin before he left office. According to the agreement, Handy erased a statement from a witness and recorded over it with a second statement. West spent nearly seven years in prison.
Handy previously agreed to a plea deal in 2020 that would have sentenced to him to five years served on probation, avoiding jail time. Judge Olu Stevens rejected the deal, claiming the punishment did not match the victims' consequences.