Man vows to world he'll atone for Navy veteran's death in car crash
Set to dramatic music, the YouTube video — “I killed a man” — opens with the young man’s face blurred and his voice deepened and disguised.
As he talks of mistakes made and regrets realized, the pixilation obscuring the man’s face eventually vanishes. His true voice emerges, his words seemingly sincere.
“My name is Matthew Cordle and on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession.”
In a video recorded Tuesday at his Northwest Side home, Cordle promises to tell the truth about the “blackout” drinking that led him to drive the wrong way on I-670 and crash head-on into Canzani’s vehicle near 3rd Street.
The 22-year-old man, his arm streaked with scars inflicted in the crash, also asks viewers of the video to make a promise — to not drink and drive.
Cordle has not been charged in the early-morning crash that killed Canzani. “When I get charged, I will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family,” he says in the video.
Canzani, 61, of Gahanna, was a photographer, Navy submarine veteran and the father of two daughters. They could not be reached for comment. He was the son of the late Vasa and Joseph V. Canzani, a former president of the Columbus College of Art & Design.
George Breitmayer III, a Columbus lawyer representing Cordle, said yesterday that he was unaware that his client was posting an online confession.
“This video he released demonstrates his character, bravery and integrity, and I know he fully intends to cooperate with law enforcement and Franklin County prosecutors throughout the course of any future criminal proceedings,” Breitmayer said. He declined to comment further.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien watched Cordle’s video three times. “It’s the most compelling video I think I have seen. He strikes me as remorseful and sincere,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said he received the completed police investigation yesterday and will ask grand jurors on Monday to indict Cordle on a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide. The second-degree felony carries a prison sentence of two to eight years.
In the video, Cordle said he was “drinking very heavily” with friends on the night of June 21 and “lost control.” Cordle said he drank as a way of escaping the depression that afflicts him. “I really don’t like the person I become when I drink.”
Cordle, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, said he realizes he is handing prosecutors a virtual confession that can help send him to prison.
However, he said, he is not willing to lie to avoid punishment. “I won’t dishonor Vincent’s memory by lying about what happened.”
Cordle ends the three-minute-plus video with a plea. “I will take that (prison) sentence for just one reason, and that reason is so I can pass this message on to you.
“I beg you, and I say the word beg specifically, I’m begging you, please don’t drink and drive. Don’t make the same excuses that I did. Don’t say it’s only a few miles or you’ve only had a few beers ...
“I can’t bring Mr. Canzani back, and I can’t erase what I have done, but you can still be saved. Your victims still can be saved. So, please ...”
Cordle’s video first surfaced on the website becauseisaidiwould.com, which is described as “a social movement dedicated to bettering humanity through the power of a promise.”
The website’s founder, Alex Sheen, a Cleveland-area resident who grew up in Powell, said Cordle reached out to him through his website’s Facebook page to make the video. Sheen said he shot the video on Tuesday in Cordle’s home.
“He feels very, very guilty for what he has done and he is just struggling with this,” Sheen said. “He wants to take responsibility for this. I can sympathize with him wanting to help people.”