LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – His victims, who wrongfully served years in prison because of his illegal conduct, were outraged earlier this month when former Louisville Police Det. Mark Handy was sentenced to only one year in prison.
In fact, however, his stay behind bars was much shorter than that.
The Kentucky Department of Corrections moved Handy to its electronic monitoring program this week after serving behind bars as a state prisoner since May 11, meaning he will serve the rest of his time on home incarceration.
"The likelihood of Handy being released from custody after serving less than two weeks is an affront to all of his victims and the criminal justice system as a whole," said attorney Eliot Slosar, who represents two men who have filed pending wrongful incarceration lawsuits against Handy.
Attorney Brian Butler, who represents Handy, said it is "common for low-level non-violent offenders to be released on home incarceration based upon state budgetary issues as well as overcrowding issues.
Slosar also noted the move by the state is inconsistent with the sentence handed down by Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens, who had previously rejected a plea deal that would have included no prison time for Handy.
Stevens rejected that deal, saying the penalty for Handy would not be equal to the injustice received by his victims. Handy and his attorneys withdrew the guilty plea.
Under the terms of the most recent plea agreement, Handy was not able to ask for probation for his one-year prison sentence.
But the state Department of Corrections can alter sentences, especially given that Handy was convicted of the lowest class of felonies and only sentenced to one year - and would be a safety risk as a former police officer.
"This encourages police officers in Kentucky to continue violating citizens' rights knowing they will never truly be held responsible," Slosar said. "This is disheartening."
Slosar represents Keith West, who spent about 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.
Handy pleaded guilty to tampering with physical evidence by taping over the recording of a witness statement in the West case, according to the plea agreement.
Former Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned West in 2019.
Handy also pleaded guilty to perjury in the wrongful conviction of Edwin Chandler, who spent nearly a decade in prison for a murder he didn't commit after Handy lied to a jury in his 1995 murder trial.
After the sentencing on May 11, Chandler said he was "not happy with our justice system," telling supporters and members of the media that one year in prison was not enough for what Handy did.
On Friday, after learning that Handy would be released on home incarceration, Chandler said he was "not surprised."
"It’s the way the system works," said Chandler in a phone interview. "This is the system we have. This is how it is set up. I did 10 years in prison. I didn’t get the chance to do home incarceration."
In the Chandler case, Handy admits he testified untruthfully at trial as to something he said Chandler told him about the case, something only the murderer would have known.
"This testimony … led to the wrongful conviction of Edwin Chandler," according to the plea agreement.
Chandler spent nine years in prison for the murder of Brenda Whitfield, which a court later found he did not commit. He was exonerated in 2012. Metro Government went on to pay him $8.5 million as a result of a wrongful conviction lawsuit.
In a previous court hearing, Handy apologized for his actions and to Chandler.
"I know words are not worth much," Handy said last year. "From the day I learned that Mr. Chandler had been wrongfully convicted I've been sick, ill. I can only apologize to him with all my heart and hope he can find some type of forgiveness."
He said he lives his "life now trying to make amends. I hope he can forgive me some day."
West has a pending lawsuit filed against Louisville police, the city and several officers.
Four people with a conviction involving Handy have been exonerated. Handy's investigations are the focus of multiple wrongful imprisonment lawsuits.
He played a central role in the investigation of two "satanic ritual" killings in Meade County. Jeffrey Clark and Keith Hardin were convicted for the 1995 murder of Rhonda Sue Warford. In 2016, however, a judge threw out the conviction and the men were released
Clark and Hardin have since filed a federal lawsuit and accuse Handy of working with former Meade County Sheriff Joseph Greer, and others, to create a "false theory" that Clark and Hardin murdered Warford in a Satanic ritual killing.
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