Video Confessor Awaits Sentence, Media Attention Swirls

Listen to the Story

Matthew Cordle, center, turns himself in with his lawyers.(Photo: Thomas Bradley / WOSU)
Matthew Cordle, center, turns himself in with his lawyers.(Photo: Thomas Bradley / WOSU)

There’s little question that the case of 22-year-old Matthew Cordle is unusual. Court evidence shows the high school graduate was drinking with friends at a Park Street bar on the night of June 21st. And, after consuming at least a half-dozen beers he got into his truck and started to drive home in the pre-dawn hours of June 22nd.

Cordle entered I-670 the wrong way and crashed into on oncoming car. The head-on collision killed 61-year-old Vincent Canzani. But, before prosecutors brought any charges Cordle publicly confessed to the crime on a YouTube video against his attorney, George Breitmayer’s advice.

“I mean I’ve never had a client walk into my office and say hey look I haven’t been charged with anything but I want to plead guilty and give the state of Ohio essentially all the evidence that they needed to convict him in the video,” Breitmayer said.

Did you tell him to do that?

No. In fact he contacted me prior to making the video and I encouraged him not to make the video. He made it on his own. And to be honest it’s had a tremendous impact, says Breitmayer.

The video went viral. Wednesday, Cordle pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide before Franklin County Common Pleas Curt Judge David Fais.

Cordle answered, ‘Yes your honor,” to a series of questions from Judge Fais. Fais said he wanted to make sure Cordle understood the consequence of his guilty plea. After his plea, Breitmayer says Cordle had few words.

“He didn’t have a whole lot to say. We explained to him how things were going to happen before the hearing and things happened just as we explained them to him. He still has a good attitude. He’s still obviously riddled with guilt. You know, because this whole thing happened. But he’s doing as well as someone in his situation can be doing,” says Breitmayer.

Cordle will be sentenced on October 10. He faces a possible eight-and-a half years in prison. Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says he’ll ask for the maximum sentence for Cordle. He said Wednesday was a good day.

“Any case where we have within a week of indictment the defendant pleading guilty regardless of the charge or the circumstance is a good day for us,” says O’Brien

Talking to reporters after the court hearing, O’Brien characterized Cordle’s video confession as a “compelling admission of drunk driving and its consequences.” But, he said the state had a slam dunk case against Cordle even without the confession. O’Brien says he’s skeptical of any further statements by Cordle from behind bars saying he thinks they would only be self-serving.

While the defendant and his unusual public admission to a felony crime has garnered national media attention, little has been heard from family members of the victim.

O’Brien says he’s talked with the daughter of Vincent Canzani and she’s expressed frustration that the focus of much of the coverage remains on Cordle.

“Well, I think that has been her feeling that the defendant has focused the attention upon himself as a criminal and seems to be getting most of the attention when typically, she thinks, and it is the fact that we should be looking on the effect of the victim not on the offender,” says O’Brien.

O’Brien says the daughter of Canzani will speak to the court when Cordle is sentenced next month.

Comments