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Driver who confessed to DUI killing in YouTube video gets 6 years, 6 months in jail

Matthew Cordle, the Ohio man who confessed in a YouTube video that he killed a man while driving drunk was sentenced to six and a half years in prison Wednesday.

The 22-year-old will serve two consecutive sentences of six months, for operating a vehicle while impaired, and six years for aggravated vehicle homicide, Franklin County Court Judge David W. Fais told a court.

Cordle made national headlines last month when he posted a three and a half minute video on YouTube Sept. 3 acknowledging his guilt in the fatal crash in June, and calling for a public plea to stop others from drinking and driving and repeating his mistake. 

He had pleaded guilty on September 18 to aggravated vehicular homicide and driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol at the time of the wrong-way highway crash that killed Vincent Canzani, 61, in June. 

Judge Fais said he viewed the YouTube video three times prior to making his decision and played the video during the court sentencing hearing. 

Cordle, from the Columbus suburb of Dublin, also told the hearing: "There is no such thing as a fair sentence when it comes to the loss of a life. The true punishment is simply living, living with the knowledge that I took a man's life that I irreparably damaged the lives of Vincent's family and friends and that weight and pain will never go away."

"It should have been me that night, the guilty party, instead of an innocent man," he said.

At the center of the case was whether Cordle’s high-profile public admission would affect his sentencing. He pleaded guilty to both charges and faced between two and eight and a half years in prison for the charges.

Some involved with the case felt the video showed Cordle’s sincere remorse and merited a lower sentence, while others warned that reducing the sentence would send the wrong message.

“This case impacts not only this gentleman, not only the victim but all of our society,” Judge Fais said at the hearing. “I firmly believe that alcohol and drugs are almost an epidemic in our society. Where Mr. Cordle is sitting now no less than 65 of the people who come before this court, and who plead guilty to a criminal offense are suffering with some kid of a substance abuse problem and or a mental health issue.”

“Vince would not want to see two lives lost in this terrible situation due to Matthew drinking and driving,” Cheryl Canzani Oates, Vincent Canzani’s ex-wife, said in a letter to the judge. “Vince was forgiving and would not want to see Matthew sentenced to the maximum penalty.”

However, Vincent’s daughter, Angela Canzani, disagreed and said she did not want drivers in similar circumstances to think a public admission would lead to leniency.

Cordle was also fined $1075 plus court costs, to be deferred until his release from prison. He received a lifetime suspension of his driving privileges. 

He will serve the remainder of his sentence for operating a vehicle while impaired at the Franklin County Correctional Center before serving his six-year sentence at Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. 

In the YouTube video, Cordle said: "My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession."