On Sept. 3, a young man confessed to killing another man while driving in Ohio more than two months earlier. But this didn’t happen in a courtroom—not yet. Instead, he taped a confession, got together with becauseisaidiwould.com, a website that asks users to fulfill their promises, and posted it to YouTube.
The brief, dramatically edited video starts off with a young man, his face blurred out and his voice distorted, saying “I killed a man.” His left arm is streaked with a scar. He recalls being out with friends, drinking heavily and hopping between bars around Columbus, just trying to have a good time. The man relies on alcohol to avoid his struggle with depression, he says, “to get out of my head for a few hours.”
A news report about the crash states that around 3 a.m., a man was behind the wheel of a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, aiming for home, when he drove the wrong way on I-670 and slammed into a Jeep. That driver, a 61-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene; the man who hit him was taken to Grant Medical Center in critical condition. The man in the video says attorneys told him of similar cases where drunk-drivers had gotten off by either lying or getting their blood tests thrown out. “I won’t go down that path,” he says.
The screen fades to black. At the 1:40 mark, he reappears. You can see his face, hear his real voice. “My name is Matthew Cordle and on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession.”
Canzani, of Gahanna, was a father, photographer and veteran of the U.S. Navy. Cordle says when he is charged, he will take full responsibility for his actions and the pain he has caused to Canzani’s family. “If I took a different route, maybe I would get a reduced sentence and maybe I would get off, but I won’t dishonor Vincent’s memory by lying about what happened,” he says. ”I’m handing the prosecution everything they need to put me away for a very long time.”
The reason for the video is clear, Cordle says: don’t drive drunk. ”Don’t make the same excuses that I did. Don’t say it’s only a few miles, or you’ve only had a few beers, or you do it all the time—it’ll never happen to you—because it happened to me,” he pleads to whoever watching the video. “All of those are just excuses to make yourself feel better about a decision that you know is wrong and that can cost lives.”
Cordle closes out the clip with the statement that he can’t “bring Mr. Canzani back, and I can’t erase what I’ve done, but you can still be saved.” His voice drops: “Your victims can still be saved. So, please.”
The video’s comments are fairly positive. Most praise the apparent honesty, but others aren’t convinced it’s genuine. ”This is an example of true humanity,” one commenter writes. “Doesn’t make him a hero at all but it does make him a man and he understands that there is a price that needs to be paid and he is willing to do it,” writes another.
Cordle’s attorney, George Breitmayer III, told the Columbus Dispatch that he was unaware there was a video and that it would be posted online, but said it shows Cordle’s “character, bravery and integrity.” Ron O’Brien, the Franklin County prosecutor, also told the Dispatch the video was “the most compelling video I think I have ever seen” and called Cordle “remorseful and sincere.” Next week, he will ask grand jurors to indict Cordle on a second-degree felony charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, which could imprison him for two to eight years.