iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Agence France-Presse
Washington, October 24, 2013
The young Ohio man whose remorseful video claim of responsiblity for a fatal drunk-driving accident has gone viral on YouTube has been sentenced to 6-and-a-half years behind bars.

Matthew Cordle, 22, stood passively and attentively as gravel-voiced Judge David Fais sent him to jail on Wednesday, after replaying in court the emotional video confession that has now been seen online more than 2.3 million times.

"It should have been me (who died) that night, instead of an innocent man," said Cordle, who had earlier pleaded guilty, as he publicly apologized to the family of the victim, Vincent Canzani, 61.

"The true punishment is simply living -- living with the knowledge that I took an innocent life. That pain and weight will never go away," he told the court, dressed in a green prison T-shirt and flanked by his lawyers.

Cordle had been out drinking with friends when his vehicle veered into the opposite lane of an Interstate highway near Columbus, Ohio, in the pre-dawn hours of June 22 and slammed head-on into Canzani's car.

In September, with the help of BecauseISaidIWould.com, a website for people going public with promises, Cordle posted on YouTube a somber 3-1/2 minute video in which he took responsibility for Canzani's death and urged others not to repeat his tragic mistake.

"I'm begging you, please don't drink and drive," he said.

"I can't bring Mr. Canzani back ... but you can still be saved. You victims can still be saved."  

Canzani, 61, a US Navy veteran was described in his obituary as "a gifted photographer" who attended art school in Ohio. He had two daughters and five grandchildren, and died at the scene of the crash.

Under Ohio law, Cordle could have been jailed for a maximum eight years for aggravated vehicular homicide.

But judge Fais opted for a six-year sentence, plus six months for drunk driving, a USD 1,075 fine and court costs.

Cordle will also lose driving privileges for life and undergo three years of parole-board supervision following release from prison.

His father Dave Cordle told the court: "I believe my son's mission in life will be to spread and share this tragic experience with as many as possible."  He added: "If Matt can spare just one victim like Vincent, then Matt truly knows his time incarcerated will have been beneficial."

But Canzani's daughter Angela Canzani , laying bare her anger as she took the witness stand, struggled to contain her grief but never touched the box of tissues provided for wiping away tears.