Created on Thursday, 17 October 2013 Written by ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, AP Legal Affairs Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio man who confessed in an online video to causing a fatal wrong-way crash after a night of drinking should receive a sentence well below the maximum of eight years to send a message about the value of taking responsibility, his attorneys argue in a court filing.
The attorneys for Matthew Cordle don't ask for a specific amount of time, but say it should be below the maximum of eight years and below "a high range sentence." State law requires a sentence between two and eight years.
Cordle's conduct after the crash suggests a long sentence is not needed for him to understand the seriousness of what he did, according to the filing late Wednesday in Franklin County court. That conduct included Cordle's decision to plead guilty as soon as possible without the usual months of back-and-forth court filings challenging evidence.
"A fair sentence is imperative in this case in order to send a message to other offenders and society that taking responsibility and trying to make something positive come from such a horrendous tragedy is an exemplary way to face such a tragic situation," defense attorneys George Breitmayer and Martin Midian said in the filing.
Cordle, 22, pleaded guilty last month to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in the June death of Vincent Canzani of suburban Columbus. Cordle's blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Cordle faces eight years for the homicide and six months for the drunken driving — which likely would be folded into the overall sentence — a $15,000 fine and loss of driving privileges for life.
Cordle's online video confession, made against the advice of lawyers and released in early September, has been viewed more than 2.2 million times.
County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, who has until Friday afternoon to respond, has said he plans to seek the maximum.
"I'll be, at the time of sentencing, in a position of showing the kind of sentences given in this county for people that get large amounts of alcohol in their system and kill people, and it will not be a four-year sentence," O'Brien said Sept. 18, the day Cordle pleaded guilty.
Cordle's video confession begins with his 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.
He ends the video by pleading with viewers not to drink and drive.