Matthew Cordle, the young Ohio man who chose YouTube as a venue for confessing to his central role in a fatal drunk driving accident in Columbus this past summer, was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison last week.
Reading from a written statement following pronouncement of his sentence, which also included a lifetime ban of his driving privileges, Cordle told his sentencing judge and others present in the court that the “pain and weight will never go away.”
Cordle was driving drunk when he struck another man in a wrong-way car crash last June 22. The video confession he subsequently made has reportedly been watched by more than two million viewers online. Cordle spoke candidly about the incident on YouTube, saying that he didn’t want to dishonor the victim’s memory “by laying about what happened.”
Cordle’s sentence fell short of the maximum 8 1/2 -year term provided for under Ohio law.
The victim’s daughter argued for that more stringent sentence at Cordle’s sentencing hearing, stating that, while Cordle “will still have his whole life ahead of him, my father is never coming back.” She expressed to the court her concern that a sentence perceived as lenient would convey a wrong message to the public, namely, that a drunk driver can take a life and then receive a lesser term by simply apologizing.
Cordle’s story is unlikely to fade from public view, given its already wide media exposure and the potential for it to be used as a catalyst in educational and safety campaigns against drunk driving. The judge in the case expressed a hope during Cordell’s sentencing hearing that Cordle’s face and story might be disseminated as a precautionary tale through a billboard presence.
Source: CBS News, "Matthew Cordle sentenced: Ohio man who confessed to killing man while driving drunk gets 6/12 years in prison," Julia Dahl, Oct. 23, 2013