COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio driver who made an online video confessing to causing a fatal wrong-way crash after drinking heavily was scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday.
In a 3½-minute video posted last week, Matthew Cordle admitted he killed a man from a Columbus suburb and said he “made a mistake” when he decided to drive that night.
“My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani,” he says somberly. “This video will act as my confession.”
Cordle, of Powell, another Columbus suburb, was due to appear in Franklin County court Tuesday afternoon after being charged with aggravated vehicular assault a day earlier and turning himself in. Cordle also is charged with a misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
He could plead guilty as early as Tuesday but might also have to wait for his case to be assigned to a permanent judge.
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said Cordle faces up to 8½ years in prison if convicted.
Cordle’s attorneys on Monday downplayed any suggestion that Cordle made the video in hopes of winning a light sentence. But a harsh sentence could also send the wrong message to people trying to take responsibility for crimes, they said.
His attorneys said they hope he will be free on bond after pleading guilty but before being sentenced to continue to spread his anti-drunken driving message.
O’Brien previously said Cordle’s blood sample from the night of the crash tested positive for alcohol and negative for drugs. The indictment alleges Cordle’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the level at which Ohio authorities generally consider a driver to be impaired.
Messages left with Canzani’s family were not immediately returned Monday. O’Brien said the family will be in court Tuesday. He said in similar cases, it would be common for him to ask for the maximum sentence.
The video was filmed Sept. 3, and the version posted on YouTube has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. It begins with Cordle’s face blurred as he describes how he has struggled with depression and was simply trying to have a good time with friends going “from bar to bar” the night of the accident. He then describes how he ended up driving into oncoming traffic on Interstate 670. Cordle’s face becomes clear as he reveals his name and confesses to killing Canzani.
He ends the video by pleading with viewers not to drink and drive.
“I can’t bring Mr. Canzani back, and I can’t erase what I’ve done, but you can still be saved. Your victims can still be saved,” Cordle says. Then a message appears on the darkened screen: “Make the promise to never drink and drive.”
Matthew Cordle’s video confession: http://bit.ly/1dWug8i
Associated Press Writer Regina Garcia Cano contributed to this report. Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus