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Ohio man gets 6½ years after DUI crash confession

10:29 AM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
Matthew Cordle, 22
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Matthew Cordle, the 22-year-old Ohio man who confessed on YouTube to a fatal drunk driving accident, has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

The sentencing hearing for Cordle, who after a night of heavy drinking caused the June crash that killed 61-year-old Vincent Canzani, began with a video of him confessing being played in court.

Cordle faced up to eight years in prison and confessed to the crime in an online video that went viral.

During Wednesday's hearing, the judge read a letter from Canzini's ex-wife who said she believed he wouldn't have wanted a maximum sentence. She said she believes Cordle will keep his promises never to drink and drive again.

His daughter asked for the maximum sentence, saying her father "got a death sentence and did nothing wrong."

Cordle's father told Canzani's family that his heart was filled with sorrow at their loss and he hopes someday they can forgive his son.

Last month, Canzani's daughter Angela said in a brief TV interview that Cordle's YouTube confession, viewed more than 2.2 million times, had taken the focus off her father, 61-year-old Vincent Canzani.

Cordle, 22, faces eight years in prison, a $15,000 fine and loss of driving privileges for life. He pleaded guilty last month to aggravated vehicular homicide and driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. His blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien is pushing for the maximum, saying Cordle drove that night despite knowing he had a history of blackouts after heavy drinking.

O'Brien also says the average sentence for similar crimes in the central Ohio county is about eight years.

O'Brien also cites Cordle's refusal to submit to a blood-alcohol test after the accident as justifying the maximum. Prosecutors had to obtain a court order to do the test.

Cordle's attorneys have asked Judge David Fais for a sentence well below the maximum. They say that would send a message about the importance of taking responsibility for a tragedy.

There were never any doubts that Cordle was responsible for the June crash that came after a night of bar hopping near downtown Columbus. Cordle was alone in his truck and witnesses in other cars identified him as the driver.

As prosecutors waited for lab results for alcohol and drugs, Cordle decided to forego the usual court process and plead guilty as soon as he was charged. His attorneys agreed with his plan, but against their advice, he also made an online video confessing to the accident.

"I killed a man," he says at the beginning of the 3 ½-minute clip, then goes on to explain what happened that night. He concludes by begging people not to drink and drive.

Associated Press

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