YouTube confessor: Video might have brought stiffer sentence
Screen grab from a video of a man claiming to be Matthew Cordle confessing to driving drunk and killing a Navy veteran on June 22, 2013.
The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch
Matthew Cordle doesn’t want people to admire him, far from it.
Instead, he holds himself out as a “cautionary tale,” a story of a suburban kid from a good family who lost his way, one who didn’t rediscover himself and gain purpose in life until he had killed a man.
He said the viral YouTube video in which he confessed to killing Vincent Canzani, 61, of Gahanna, in a wrong-way, drunken-driving crash on I-670 on June 22 was “not a courageous act.”
Instead, it was something the social-media savvy man said he had to do to accept responsibility and reach out to his victim’s family while cautioning others to not drink and drive, to spare their would-be victims.
Cordle, 22, of Powell, today was serving the 46th day of a prison sentence that will stretch 2,190 days. He was sentenced yesterday to six and one-half years for aggravated vehicular homicide and drunken driving.
In a jailhouse interview with The Dispatch this morning, Cordle said: “I’m actually relieved now that it’s over with. I can start to move forward myself and hope and pray that my victim’s family can start to move forward, as well.”
Cordle said that his headline-making video confession, as evidenced by interviews he granted today to CNN, The Today Show and Good Morning America, may have bought him more time in prison, rather than less.
Asked if he might have received a lesser sentence by not calling attention to himself, he said, “I feel strongly in that matter. The video got a lot of attention and required appropriate reaction from the court.
“If I didn’t make the video and quietly did this, I may have gotten a lighter sentence. As to what may have happened, there’s no way of knowing.”
Regardless, as he said in court, "There's no real fair sentnece when it comes to a case like this ... you know, two to eight years doesn't suffice to pay for what I've done to that family."
Prior to the crash in which he killed Canzani, Cordle was taking steps to rejoin the military after previously serving in the Army Reserves.
“I wasn’t in a very good place. I was out drinking a lot, out partying a lot ... I would describe myself as a bit lost,” Cordle said of heavy drinking he partially attributed to mental-health issues including depression and anxiety.
He doesn’t recall much from the night of the crash, awakening in a hospital still drunk and not wanting to believe he had killed a man. “I was in denial,” he said.
Cordle gradually came to acceptance and decided he couldn’t lie, couldn’t allow his lawyers to attempt to throw out his blood alcohol test results showing a reading of 0.19 percent, more than twice the level at which one is presumed impaired in Ohio.
“As much as I feel guilty for saying something like that, it has given me a purpose now,” he said. "Something I can grasp onto and spend the rest of my life fighting for." He will work from prison, however he can, to preach against drunken driving, Cordle said.
Working with his sister, he has created a Twitter account — @MatthewCordle — on which she will post his thoughts and pleas from prison. She posted a Tweet from her brother yesterday:
6.5 years is just time. Time will not bring my victim back. Please, please make the pledge to never drink and drive. #saveyourvictim -- Matthew
Cordle understands the anger of Canzani’s daughter, Angela, who yesterday asked the judge to give Cordle the maximum sentence of eight and one-half years.
“Angela, obviously, l took her father from her, I’m the man who killed her father. Anger is an appropriate response and she’s certainly entitled to feel that way,” Cordle said. Ms. Canzani has declined interview requests from The Dispatch.
Cordle only choked up once, and only slightly, when asked about forgiveness and if he could grant it to himself.
“It’s something I think about a lot ... But, I’m not ready to make that determination yet. I’l l have to reflect on it during my prison sentence.”