Video Confession in Fatal Crash May Lead to Charges

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 09, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An Ohio man has made a video confession in which he takes responsibility for a drunken driving crash that killed another driver. He allegedly made the video to face the consequences for his actions.

Matthew Cordle, 22, admits in the video to "making a mistake" when he got behind the wheel after going bar-hopping with friends in June. He recounted the tragic night when he drove into oncoming traffic and fatally struck 61-year-old Vincent Canzani, reports The Associated Press.

Prosecutors want to charge Cordle with aggravated vehicular homicide with an alcohol specification. But will his confession affect his punishment?

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide

In Ohio, the crime of aggravated vehicular homicide occurs from the death of another caused by the defendant's operating a vehicle while impaired or while driving negligently or recklessly.

A driver can be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide whether or not alcohol played a part in the death, but the involvement of alcohol will enhance the penalty. In Ohio, aggravated vehicular homicide when impaired is a second degree felony, which carries a maximum of eight years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.

Cordle's driving on the wrong side of the road while impaired will likely meet the threshold for an aggravated vehicular homicide.

Mitigating Circumstances

Certain "aggravating" or "mitigating" circumstances will be taken into account to determine where along the prescribed spectrum Cordle's punishment should fall.

Considerations will include whether Cordle:

  • Is a "first-time" or repeat offender;
  • Committed the crime under great personal stress or duress;
  • Committed the crime in a very reckless manner that caused harm to someone;
  • Was particularly cruel to a victim, or particularly destructive, vindictive, etc.; and
  • Is genuinely contrite or remorseful.

It's possible that Cordle's video confession will function as a mitigating circumstance. He took ownership of his actions, expressed a tremendous amount of regret and remorse, and literally begged the public to never drink and drive.

You can watch the confession here:

Apart from driving drunk, the mitigating force of the confession will likely be tempered by aggravating circumstances that include Cordle's veering into opposing traffic and driving away from the scene of the crime.

The local prosecutor told the AP he downloaded a copy of Cordle's video confession as evidence. He plans to present the video to a grand jury for possible indictment.

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