Columbus, OH- Matthew Cordle the Columbus man who confessed to causing a fatal DUI accident that killed a man in a video that went viral with over 2 million views on YouTube will plead guilty to the charges on Wednesday. Though some have praised Cordle for his confession, others, including the victim’s daughter, accuse him of trying to get a lenient sentence.
Cordle’s first court appearance last week created a bit of an uproar when he entered a plea of not guilty, but it was just a procedural snafu. The judge refused to accept his guilty plea because his attorneys failed to follow procedural rules for first court appearances.
The Associated Press reported that Cordle, 22, pleaded guilty to operating under the influence and aggravated vehicular homicide Wednesday morning, making good on his promise to take responsibility for the wrong-way crash that killed Vincent Canzani on June 22nd.
Cordle faces 8 ½ years in jail and his attorneys are trying to decide whether to seek his release on bond so he can continue to push his anti-drunk driving message until he is sentenced.
Cordle’s video confession, a slick piece produced with the help of non-profit, Because I said I would, has garnered both praise and criticism.
While some have called him brave for admitting he made a “mistake” when he got into his vehicle after a night of heavy drinking. There are many who think the confession is disingenuous and a ploy to get sympathy.
The video is professional looking and well-produced, with an emotional soundtrack. It begins with Cordle’s face obscured while the camera focuses on a scar on his hand, eventually revealing his face. The video is compelling and is effective at evoking the viewer’s sympathy.
It opens with: “My name is Matthew Cordle. And on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession. When I get charged, I’ll plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family.”
The 3 ½ minute video ends with Cordle asking the viewer not to make the same mistake he did: Don’t drink and drive.
Vincent Canzani’s daughter, however, doesn’t think Cordle is genuinely repentant about killing her father. She believes the video was a way for Cordle and his defense attorneys to court favor with the judge and possibly receive a reduced sentence.
“If he wanted to raise awareness, I mean, I would’ve commended him for that down the road, but the video is totally misleading,” Angela Canzani said, according to the Daily Mail. “The motives, I believe, are so he’ll get a lighter sentence. There’s a way to go about it and that wasn’t it.”
In a statement, one of Cordle’s attorneys, Martin Midian, confirmed that the video could be used to convince the court he deserves a reduced sentence.
“A heavy-handed sentence could send the wrong message that accepting responsibility is the wrong thing to do,” Midian said.
Canzani’s daughter may be right; the video confession may help Cordle receive a reduced sentence. Maybe that was his motive for taping a confession, which gave the prosecutors significant evidence against him, but even so, he is in jail, admitted to his crime, and will pay the price. Now it is up to a judge to decide if he deserves the full sentence or not.