A Franklin County Judge Wednesday sentenced convicted drunk driver Matthew Cordle. The 22-year-old Ohio man earlier confessed to his crime in a YouTube video that brought international attention to the case. In court, the daughter of the victim asked the court to send a different kind of message. From Ohio Public Radio member station WOSU in Columbus, Tom Borgerding reports.
22-year-old Matthew Cordle will spend the next six-and-a-half years behind bars. Judge David Fais handed down the less-than-maximum sentence after hearing from relatives of both the defendant and victim.
In a YouTube video confession, Matthew Cordle says he wants to influence others not to drink and drive. Last June, he entered I-670 the wrong way and caused a fatal head-on collision.
Sixty-one-year-old Vincent Canzani was killed. Speaking publicly for the first time, the victim’s daughter, Angela Canzani, asked the court to send its own message by giving Cordle the maximum eight and half year sentence.
“I’ve heard time and time again about a message," Canzani said. "But, the message I do not want to send is that if you hit and kill someone, all you have to do is admit to it later and get leniency.”
Canzani remembered her father as a passionate, talented photographer and artist who had an impact on everyone he met.
“My sister Maria and I will never see our father’s face again," she said. "Our children will never see their grandfather again. We will never hear his voice. We will never hug him, and we will never look forward to another holiday with our dead grandfather.”
Canzani says her father got a death sentence and did nothing wrong.
Judge Fais also allowed the defendant to speak to the court. Cordle said part of his punishment is simply living with the pain and weight of knowing that he killed a man by driving drunk. He then apologized directly to the Canzani family.
“I am so sorry for the pain I’ve caused you, for the loved one I’ve taken from you," Cordle said. "It should have been me that died that night, the guilty party, instead of an innocent man.”
Cordle’s father told the court that it’s his hope that someday the Canzani family can forgive Matthew Cordle. Cordle will remain in the Franklin County jail for six months to serve his sentence on a misdemeanor count. He will then be moved to state prison to serve six years for aggravated vehicular homicide.
Judge Fais made the sentences consecutive so they’d add up to 6 and a half years. Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says the state is satisfied with the sentence.
“I know he struggled and considered all the facts and all the information," O'Brien said. "And I think both the state and the Canzani family are happy with the six-and-a-half year sentence that he imposed.”
Defense attorney George Breitmayer says Cordle will continue his anti-drunk driving message now that the case has been legally resolved.
“He looked relieved to have everything over," Breitmayer said. "Like I said he wasn’t that concerned about the sentence more so that he can keep moving forward and trying to push his message.”