By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio man who confessed in an online video to causing a fatal wrong-way crash after a night of heavy drinking pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated vehicular homicide.
Matthew Cordle, 22, also pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol at a hearing in Franklin County Court. He faces two to 8 1/2 years in prison at sentencing, which was set for Oct. 10.
Cordle, who lives in Powell, a Columbus suburb, said little during Wednesday's hearing, simply replying, "Yes, your honor," as the judge asked him a series of questions.
He wanted to plead guilty to make good on his pledge to accept responsibility for the crash, according to his lawyers. They did not ask for him to be released on bond before sentencing, and a judge revoked his bond.
In a 3 1/2-minute video posted two weeks ago, Cordle admitted he killed a man from another 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."
He had entered a preliminary plea of not guilty last week in a procedural move, but the judge didn't allow Cordle to go ahead with it, 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.
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.
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.
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He ends the video by pleading with viewers not to drink and drive.