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Former LMPD detective pleads guilty to perjury, tampering with evidence

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 12:40 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – A former LMPD homicide detective accused of coercing confessions, making up statements and ignoring exculpatory evidence in three separate murder cases was sentenced.

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 by WAVE 3 News. The stories led to the Louisville Metro Council asking 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.

Handy’s attorney didn’t deny that his client lied but suggested it all comes down to intent.

“There is a difference between saying something that’s not true and intentionally saying something that’s not true, and that would have had to been an issue the jury would have had to decide,” said Brian Butler, Handy’s attorney. “It was never his intention to send an innocent man to prison. H is not a bad person. He is who worked hard as a police officer and made many good cases. He made a mistake here and it was a tragic mistake.”

Edwin Chandler, who was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1993 based on evidence Handy fabricated - says this day has been a long time coming - but it’s still not enough.

“I spent over a decade in prison and on parole, 17 years in total for that,” said Chandler, “and then it took me 10 more years just to get to the point where I could bring charges against him.”

However, during a hearing on Aug. 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.

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