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Drunk driver admits in viral online video: 'I killed a man'

The Internet served as a contemporary confessional this week when a 22-year-old from Ohio posted a YouTube video in which he admitted to driving his car while drunk and killing a man.

In a three-and-a-half-minute video, Matthew Cordle said he was driving the wrong way down a Columbus highway on the night of June 22, and crashed into a car driven by 61-year-old Vincent Canzani.

“I killed a man,” says Cordle in the video, which begins with his face blurred and voice obscured as he narrates a night of bar-hopping and drinking to the point of blackout.

Midway through the video, Cordle’s face is revealed, along with his true voice -- and the confession becomes an awareness campaign set to music that is both maudlin and celestial.

“I can’t bring Mr. Canzani back, and I can’t erase what I’ve done, but you can still be saved,” says Cordle, urging viewers not to drink and drive.

“Your victims can still be saved. So, please.”

No charges have been yet been filed against Cordle. 

The week, Columbus police, who identified Cordle as a suspect in the fatal crash, concluded their investigation and have recommended that he face  indictment for aggravated vehicular homicide with an alcohol specification,  Franklin County Prosecutor spokeswoman Christy McCreary told The Times.

Under the charge, Cordle could be sentenced to two to eight years in prison, McCreary said. The final investigation report has been sent by police to prosecutors for consideration by a grand jury on Monday. 

Prosecutors downloaded Cordle’s online confession and planned to include it as evidence in further legal proceedings, McCreary said.

Defense attorney George Breitmayer III told the Associated Press that the video was “a strong testament” to Cordle’s character.

Whether that video benefits or hurts Cordle’s case isn’t the issue, said Alex Sheen, the video’s maker, reached Friday by telephone from Cleveland. Sheen, 28, founded and runs the nonprofit Because I Said I Would, which describes itself on its website as "a social movement dedicated to the importance of a promise." 

Sheen posted Cordle’s confession on his organization's website and social media profiles. In the video, Cordle holds up a card with a note reading, "I will take full responsibility for what I've done."

Sheen said Cordle messaged him in early August, out of the blue, and that the two had no prior relationship.

In Cordle, Sheen said he saw “insurmountable” guilt and sincere remorse -- not a bid for Internet fame or leniency on the part of the criminal justice system.

“People are praising him like some sort of hero -- but that’s not what this video is for,” Sheen said.

“He’s going to be arrested soon…. He just wanted to try to convince people not to drink and drive.”

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Twitter: @MattHjourno

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

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