In Ohio, a Franklin County grand jury has issued an indictment for Matthew Cordle, the man who confessed to vehicular homicide while driving under the influence in a viral video that has received over 2 million views on YouTube since its publication on September 3, 2013.
In the video, a man whose face is pixilated and voice sounds as though it is digitally manipulated says that a night of drinking ”just got out of control…I ended up going the wrong way down the highway directly into oncoming traffic and I struck a car. And killed a man.” The man explains that he consulted with attorneys and received advice on how to potentially avoid the consequences of the drunk driving crash that resulted in the death of Vincent Canzani, age 61.
After a brief pause in the video, Matthew Cordle appears with his face and voice normally recorded. Cordle declares, ”My name is Matthew Cordle and on June 22nd 2013 I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession.”
The deadly accident occurred on June 22nd on I-670 near 3rd Street in downtown Columbus. Cordle has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony in Ohio, and faces between two to eight and a half years in prison according to authorities. He has also been charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a misdemeanor.
Although in his YouTube video Cordle says that the purpose of his confession is to take responsibility for his actions and to encourage others not to make the same mistake, Angela Canzani, the daughter of Vincent Canzani, has accused Cordle of publishing the video solely to receive a reduced sentence. Angela Canzani noted that the crash investigation, in which Cordle has been a suspect, has been ongoing and that previously Cordle was not cooperative with investigators or the insurance companies. Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien has indicated that the blood sample taken from Cordle on the night of the crash shows that Cordle’s blood alcohol was over twice the level set by Ohio authorities for impaired driving.
The confession video was filmed with the assistance of Because I Said I Would, a social movement working towards positive change through “promise cards” and the support of similar non-profit organizations that it would have been more appropriate for Cordle to share the video with investigators and the family of Vincent Canzani first before working to raise awareness at a later date. She also said that the video “is totally misleading.”
Her position appeared to be reinforced as in his first court appearance on September 11, Cordle entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charges against him. Although his attorneys indicated that this was a procedural move and that Cordle will change his plea to “guilty” once a judge is assigned to the case, others are casting doubt on the reasons behind the plea; in some areas, public admission of wrongdoing can be mitigating factors in sentencing.
Whatever the true motives of the video, over two million people have now watched the three minute confession that ends with the words ”make the promise to never drink and drive,” a positive message that may result in better outcomes for others tempted to drive impaired.