The Ohio man who confessed in a viral video that he killed a man while driving drunk was sentenced Wednesday to six-and-a-half years in prison and a lifetime suspension of his driver's license.
Dressed in a green prison uniform, 22-year-old Matthew Cordle addressed the Columbus, Ohio, courtroom before Judge David Fais handed down his sentence.
“Whatever my sentence may be, the true punishment is living,” Cordle said.
Cordle pleaded guilty in September to aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while impaired. He made headlines when he posted a YouTube video on September 3 confessing to driving while drunk and killing 61-year old Vincent Canzani on June 22. Several days after the video appeared online, Cordle surrendered to authorities and was charged for his involvement in the wrong-way crash.
Wednesday morning, Cordle's confession video was played in the courtroom. Fais said he felt it would be beneficial for the video to be viewed because it was about “more than Mr. Cordle.” He said it was about society and the “epidemic” of drugs and alcohol problems he sees in his courtroom.
After the video was viewed, the judge read two letters aloud. The first was from the victim’s ex-wife, Cheryl Canzani Oates. In her letter, Oates said her husband would not want to see two lives lost as a result of this incident. She said she didn't believe Canzani would want to see Cordle receive the maximum sentence and that she believes Cordle was “sincere in admitting he was sorry” that he took another man’s life.
“Nothing will bring Vincent back,” Oates said in the letter. “I know what pain Matthew feels. The pain will stay with him until his death.”
The second letter was from Herald Dennis, Jr., who survived what's called the nation’s worst drunken driving crash in the spring of 1988 in Carrollton, Kentucky. Dennis said he lost several friends and suffered third-degree burns on his body “as a result of one man’s decision to drive drunk.” In his letter, Dennis said he has waited 25 years for a “simple acknowledgement or remorse” from the man who caused his accident. Dennis said Cordle showed “courage to surrender and take responsibility for his actions and show contrition to the family of his victim.”
Rising to speak on behalf of her father was the victim’s daughter, Angela Canzani. Addressing the video, she said, “I’ve heard about a message. The message we don’t want to hear is that if you hit and kill someone -- and admit to it -- you get away with it.”
To the judge, she added, “My father got a death sentence. Eight-and-a-half years is nothing. After eight-and-a-half years, Matthew Cordle will have his life back -- my father is never coming back.”
Cordle was the last to speak at the hearing. He offered another apology to the victim’s family, saying, “It should have been me instead of an innocent man. I vow that I’ll do everything I can to prevent it from happening again and his memory from fading.”