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YouTube confessor must wait to plead

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By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 5:48 p.m.
 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio driver who made an online video confessing to causing a fatal wrong-way crash while drunk must wait at least a day to enter his promised guilty plea.

In a 3½-minute video posted last week, Matthew Cordle admitted he killed a man from a 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.”

Cordle, of Powell, another Columbus suburb, appeared briefly in Franklin County court on Tuesday while being charged with aggravated vehicular homicide a day earlier and turning himself in. Cordle is charged with a misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Judge Julie Lynch ended the hearing shortly after it began. She said an expected arrangement whereby Cordle would plead guilty and be sentenced had changed. Lynch said Cordle should appear before her again on Wednesday.

After the hearing, Lynch said Cordle's lawyers appeared to change their minds about having the case in front of her when she refused to commit to a specific sentence.

Cordle could be given two to 8½ years in prison.

His lawyers denied they had decided to look for a different judge, a process known as judge shopping, which is banned by court rules. They wouldn't comment on any discussions of a sentence with the judge.

Wearing a beige jail shirt and blue pants and slippers, Cordle sat between his lawyers and didn't speak during the hearing. His family and relatives of Canzani all declined to comment.

The video was filmed on Sept. 3, and the version posted on YouTube has been viewed more than 1.7 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 collision. 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.

“I can't bring Mr. Canzani back, and I can't erase what I've done, but you can still be saved. Your victims can still be saved,” Cordle says. Then a message appears on the darkened screen: “Make the promise to never drink and drive.”

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