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Man who admitted DUI killing via YouTube: I hope people 'take my message to heart'

Sep. 10, 2013 at 1:50 PM ET

Video: Matthew Cordle, who confessed in a YouTube video to accidentally killing a man while driving drunk, has spent his first night in jail. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

A day before his arraignment for aggravated vehicular homicide in the wake of his confession on YouTube, an Ohio man is hoping others can learn from his situation.

Matthew Cordle, 22, who could face between two and eight-and-a-half years in prison, admitted to killing a man while driving under the influence in a YouTube video that has gotten more than a million views. His arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday but has been moved to 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday. He enters the proceeding knowing his video gave prosecutors evidence they could use to give him a long jail sentence.

“I hope the Canzani family can get some closure with this,’’ Cordle told TODAY’s Kristen Dahlgren in a segment on TODAY Tuesday. “And I pray that they find peace someday and that people really take my message to heart.”

In the video clip, Cordle admits that on June 22, 2013, he hit and killed Vincent Canzani, 61, in a crash while driving under the influence. The indictment handed down on Monday says that Cordle's blood-alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit in Ohio.

In his YouTube video, Cordle pleads with those watching the video to learn from his mistake and not drink and drive.

“I will take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family,’’ Cordle says in the video. “I’m willing to take that sentence for one reason, and that reason is so that I can pass that message on to you. I’m begging you, please don’t drink and drive.”

In a statement, one of Canzani’s daughters accused Cordle of using the video to get a lighter sentence. But Cordle told Dahlgren, “This video is not about me. It’s about the message.”

“I could tell that his motivations for doing it were sincere,’’ Cordle’s attorney, George Breitmayer III, told TODAY. “He wanted to raise awareness.”

On Sept. 7, his mother, Kari Cordle, posted his video on her Facebook page.

"I am posting this video to support my son in his goal to get out his sincere and powerful message to never drink and drive,'' she wrote. "I am proud of his courage and strength to see this through. Thank you son."

Cordle's attorneys stood by his decision to make the video even though he was advised by others to fight the charges. He plans to plead not guilty at Wednesday's arraignment but will eventually change his plea to guilty, according to his attorneys, and his sentence could be handed down within the next 30 days. “The attorneys that I have now, Ross & Midian, never told me to lie, and they are very supportive of the decision to plead guilty,” Cordle said.

Prosecutors say the public confession doesn’t change the fact that Cordle's blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit and say his admission will not lessen the sentence they will pursue.

“He was behind the wheel of the car going the wrong way on the freeway, early in the morning, with a 0.19 blood alcohol content,’’ Franklin County prosecutor Don O’Brien told TODAY. “That kind of case is one that we aggressively prosecute and seek typically a maximum kind of sentence.”  

Whatever the length of his sentence, Cordle told his attorney that he hopes to continue to speak about the dangers of drunk driving when he is released. 

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