Prison is just a hop, skip, and a guilty verdict away for Detective Mark Handy. The former Louisville cop is accused of intentionally sending at least three innocent men to prison. He is now facing the same fate. The retired cop is at the center of four overturned convictions over two decades as well as multiple lawsuits.
A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Handy Wednesday on one count of perjury for giving false testimony against Edwin Chandler and another count of tampering with evidence in a murder case against Keith West. Both charges are considered felonies and punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to WAVE 3 News:
Handy has been at the center of three homicide cases, which resulted in four overturned convictions. In each of those cases, it was alleged that Handy acted inappropriately during his investigations by fabricating statements, feeding suspects information and coercing confessions.
Handy coerced a confession from Chandler in the 1993 murder of Brenda Whitfield. He ended up spending nine years in prison before being cleared in 2009 with the help of new fingerprint technology. The fingerprint evidence placed another man at the crime scene. Chandler was exonerated and in 2012 and won an $8.5 million settlement. The city paid the settlement after Chandler’s lawyers showed Handy fed Chandler facts to use in his confession and taped over surveillance video that might have pointed to the real killer.
In the case of Keith West, the Louisville cop taped over a witness statement in his case and also failed to report exculpatory evidence found in the car in which West said he was kidnapped. West spent nearly seven years behind bars for the shooting deaths of two men he said he killed in self defense when they allegedly tried to kidnap and rape him.
There were calls to charge Handy with perjury after it was revealed that he lied on the stand but prosecutors claimed a lack of evidence. The Kentucky Supreme Court acknowledged he lied under oath in a previous court document but the Louisville cop avoided punishment.
The Courier-Journal reports:
Commonwealth’s attorney Tom Wine said he put six prosecutors on the case who spent two years reviewing possible perjury charges against Handy but ultimately concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to merit charges.
A five-year-long investigative file into the former Louisville cop, including hundreds of pages of damning evidence, passed through the hands of three different detectives. It went from LMPD, to the Commonwealth, then to the US Attorney’s Office who worked with the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Emails show the US Attorney’s Office, the DOJ and the FBI were actively investigating Handy in February, 2017. On the 14th and 15th of that month plans were made to interview a possible witness the following week. But just two days later, before that witness was even questioned, former State Representative Denny Butler says he got a call from the Assistant US Attorney on the case who said his office decided not to pursue the case any further.
Once the LMPD heard the federal investigation into Handy was closed, they stopped their investigation. The Metro Council has pressured the Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear to appoint a special prosecutor to again look into Handy’s case. Beshear assigned Young, the Hardin County commonwealth’s attorney, to the case.
“I hope that a jury will convict Handy and that he has the opportunity to experience what Edwin Chandler experienced behind bars,” Councilwoman Jessica Green said.
Handy has testified in other cases including in a case against Garr Keith Hardin and Jeffrey Dewayne Clark, who were convicted in the 1992 slaying of teenager Rhonda Warford. In 2016, a judge threw out his testimony based on his misconduct in the Chandler case and other evidence. The judge granted a new trial for Hardin and Clark, who had served 22 years in prison. The prosecution ultimately dropped the case and the men were set free.
The perjury charge stems from February 1995 and the tampering with evidence charge even earlier, in February 1992.