YouTube Video, “I Killed a Man.”

wrecked car dui

Matthew Cordle went on YouTube and confessed to killing another man. Matthew was driving the wrong way on the freeway when he hit Vincent Cazani’s jeep with his truck. He admits being “heavily” intoxicated at the time and is now riddled with guilt for cutting another man’s life short. He claims he plans to plead guilty to all charges. He has over 2 million views.

He has since been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and one misdemeanor count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. His BAC was twice the legal limit. He faces a possible 8½ years in prison. He has also received more than a modicum of praise for his “courageous” act.

Everyone wants to believe in a genuine transformation fomented by guilt. It is the essence of Les Miserables, when the good priest forgives Jean Val Jean for stealing his silver. Jean Val Jean, out of gratitude, transforms himself from sinner to saint in a seeming instant. We want Matthew Cordle to be Jean Val Jean, so we praise his actions.

The victim’s daughter, Angela Canzani saw ulterior motives. She claims he might have made the video to influence a judge to offer a contrite convict a lighter sentence. She sensed a disingenuous Matthew and did not accept his apology.

From a strictly PR perspective, his move was genius. He was able to go from goat to folk hero in 3½ minutes. Even though his video may not alter his sentence, he comes out smelling better in the end. In the world of politics, it’s called damage control.

Matthew also made some inflammatory comments about a nameless criminal defense attorney, who claimed he could he get him off as long as he was willing to lie. To reinforce his claim to his newfound integrity Matthew states that he turned down this attorney’s offer.

Also, one shouldn’t discount the real motivation some people have for their 15 minutes of fame. Based on the evidence, he probably saw himself losing his case anyway; might as well get a few million YouTube views in the process.

Possible impact of the video

Too many people already view DUI attorneys as unnecessary since everyone who drinks and drives should do the honorable thing and plead guilty anyway. Matthew’s unverifiable reference to a “dishonest” DUI attorney serves nobody since DUI attorneys are the only reasonable chance many innocent people have to overturn their DUI charges.
Matthew’s tacit willingness to throw attorneys under the bus undermines the legal process and reinforces ridiculous stereotypes. In real terms, it was a cowardly move. It does not serve justice.

Even though he made a public confession, what was his mental state? What happens in future situations when a psychotic person makes a public confession to a crime he or she did not commit?

Is this type of grandstanding going to hijack the judicial process?

The good news is that it probably won’t. His confession is meaningless if he pleads guilty anyway. Also, if he backs out and pleads not guilty, his confession could possibly be thrown out, since his motivation and state of mind could be questioned.


Angela Canzani commented that if Matthew Cordle was truly sorry for his actions he should demonstrate that sometime in the future. She feels he should not have made the video. From another perspective, DUI laws and DUI cases are already unnecessarily difficult for the accused. His attempt to sabotage DUI attorneys does nothing to improve the situation.

No doubt, Matthew has had his 15 minutes of fame. It remains to be seen if his contrition will become the life-changing event that he wants people to believe it is.

Update: Matthew Cordle pleaded guilty to both charges on September 18, 2013. The penalty phase is pending.

This post was submitted by a guest writer. This may or may not reflect the ideas or opinions of the attorneys of Action Legal Group.

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