LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Former Louisville Metro Police detective Mark Handy, accused of framing several innocent men for murder, has agreed to a plea agreement that would have him serve one year in prison.
Under the plea agreement, Handy will plead guilty to one count of perjury and one count of tampering with physical evidence. According to the agreement, Handy would serve one year on each count that would run at the same time. He agrees to not seek probation.
Handy had agreed to a plea deal in August 2020 that would have sentenced him to five years that would have been served on probation, avoiding jail time. But Judge Olu Stevens rejected the deal, claiming the punishment in the plea deal did not match his victims' consequences.
"My job is to decide whether this agreement is a fair one, and it is not," Stevens said in the August hearing. "The penalty has to be some form of incarceration, otherwise the public will be wondering what are we doing if someone can commit an offense like this and send someone to prison for 10 years and be a convicted felon for a period of time thereafter, what kind of system do we have?"
Handy is accused of lying on the stand during the 1995 murder trial of Edwin Chandler, who was accused of murdering Brenda Whitfield in 1993. According to the prosecution, Handy had lied on the witness stand, taped over evidence and coerced a false confession from Chandler. Chandler was wrongfully convicted and served nine years in prison. He was cleared in 2009 and exonerated in 2012. Louisville Metro Government paid Chandler $8.5 million as part of a settlement.
"There's not a whole lot of words that can be said," Handy said last 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."
"I have no ill will towards anybody in this right now because it's just been too much time passed, and I've tried to piece my life together and try to move on," Chandler said during the hearing.
The new plea agreement also includes the charge of tampering with physical evidence in the case of Keith West, who was convicted of manslaughter but pardoned by former Gov. Matt Bevin before he left office. West spent nearly seven years in prison. According to the plea agreement, Handy had erased a statement from a witness after recording over it with a second statement.
Handy is also accused of framing two other men who spent time in prison before being exonerated.
According to the plea agreement, Chandler supports this new offer.
This case was set to go to trial this May. Handy's next hearing is scheduled for April 20 at 9 a.m.