COLUMBUS, Ohio —
Confronted at a hospital by police who said he’d just killed a man, drunk driver Matthew Cordle was angry and in denial.
“He became very irate, and began yelling, he didn’t kill anyone, he didn’t do it, and he wasn’t going to give them any blood sample,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said Wednesday.
Sober and in recovery, Cordle had a change of heart. He decided to plead guilty as quickly as possible, and made an online video confessing to the crime.
Defendant Matthew Cordle entered a preliminary plea of not guilty last week in a procedural move allowing a judge to be appointed to accept a guilty plea.
A judge didn't allow Cordle to go ahead with a plea Sept. 10, saying his lawyers didn't follow court procedures for first appearances. Franklin County Judge Julie Lynch also alleged the attorneys balked at coming before her because she wouldn't promise a specific sentence, something they deny.
Lynch took Cordle's not guilty plea in a brief hearing the next day and set a combined $255,000 bond. Cordle appeared Wednesday before veteran Franklin County Judge David Fais. He didn’t waver from the position he took in the Sept. 3 video, and on Wednesday he made good on his pledge and pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide.
In a 3½-minute video posted two weeks ago, 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 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani," he says somberly. "This video will act as my confession."
After last week's hearing, Canzani's daughter told a TV station the attention the case has gotten is forcing her to relive what happened. Angela Canzani told WCMH-TV in Columbus that people seem to forget a person died.
“I drank so much I was blacked out,” Cordle told Franklin County Judge David Fais near the end of a 38-minute hearing.
“So I would say this was a binge drinking situation, correct, Mr. Cordle?” Fais asked.
Cordle, of Powell, another Columbus suburb, is also charged with a misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He faces two to 8½ years in prison.
The video was filmed Sept. 3, and the version posted on YouTube has been viewed more than 1.9 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.