TODAY   |  October 24, 2013

Drunk driving confessor: Sentence brings ‘relief’

In an online video, Matthew Cordle of Columbus, Ohio confessed to being drunk behind the wheel and killing Vincent Canzani. He tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer he is relieved with his 6-and-a-half-year-sentence and hopes the victim’s family can find peace.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the safe place. today, matthew cordell is bin beginning the first day of his prison sentence . we will talk to him in a moment. fishs, details of his sentencing day.

>> it should have been me that night, the guilty party, instead of an innocent man.

>> cordell was speeding, drunk, driving the wrong way. theory regret he expressed in court, an exco-he poftd online last month.

>> when i get charged, i will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything i have done to vincent and his family.

>> that video has been viewed 2 million times. the judge played it in court during cordell's sentencing hearing. the victim's daughter spoke out, calling the video self serving.

>> the message i do not want to send is if you hit and kill someone, all you have to do is admit to it later and get leniency.

>> in the end, the judge sentenced cordell to six and a half years in prison. two years short of the maximum. lawyers on both side say they are satisfied with the decision. cordell's attorney says his client just hopes others learn from his tragic mistake.

>> i'm begging you, please don't drink and drive.

>> matthew cordell is with us, along with his attorneys, gentleman, good morning to all of you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> matthew , let me start with you, you heard the sentence yesterday, you will intend the next six and a half years behind bars . what was your immediate reaction?

>> umm, relief, relief that this thing is finally over. i have been sentenced. hopefully, the victim's family can start to move forward and find peace, something i pray for.

>> relief is an interesting word, i'm surprised to hear you say that that, it could have been longer, weren't you hoping for a lighter sentence?

>> i was just hoping to get sntsd, that's all. i accepted the fact that i'm going to get sntsed between two and eight years. as i said in the courtroom, you know, there is no real fair sentence for the loss of a life. so i just hope the family can move forward from this.

>> i want to go back to that now famous youtube video you povertied in september. some have called it an act of bravery, an act of character. yet, there are others who say you knew this investigation was pointing at you all along, you probably suspected you were going to be arrested and the cynic out there said this was a reaction of trying to save your skin. how do you respond to that?

>> you know, if you have something on that wide of a scale, will you have so many different opinions on it. everyone is entitled to their pvenlt i was actually being investigated for it. the video is not meant a to be a confession, it was meant a to prevent drinking and driving and hopefully prevent the senseless loss of lives.

>> it wasn't a trance transparent attempt to get a lighter sentence?

>> no, i think any lawyer, including my own would be abandoning your defense and pleading guilty is not a way to get a lighter snts.

>> let me tell you what his daughter said, she says 8-and-a-half here's is nothing, her daughter got a death sentence , when you get out of jail, will you have your whole life ahead of you. he'll never get his being. what was it like to hear those words?

>> heart breaking because every word she said is true. in the scheme of things, two to eight years is nothing for taking someone's life. he won't have any years left. he won't have any time left to see his family. that's something i have to live with. hopefully, i will be able to move on, myself.

>> you will spend more than six years behind bars . you have accepted responsibility have you apologized. you also said you will not let vincent's memory fade, you will do everything you can to prevent the senseless loss of drunk driving . how do you plan on accomplishing that over these next six and a half years?

>> it's going to be more difficult from behind bars , obviously, i don't know every avenue i can take yet. but once i get to prison, hopefully, i will be able to speak out in some form or manner and, you know, weigh up all my options and consider doing the best thing possible, locking at other people's hands as well.

>> i think the judge said he would like to see the holiday season begins, your face up on the billingboards, i drank, i drove, and a took a life. would you want to be the poster board for this?

>> i don't want to get glorified, if i have to be the poster board , i want people to know, i'm a cautionary tale.

>> matthew cordell, gentleman, thank you very much. matthew , thanks, for your time this morning.

>> thank you, matt.

>> thank you, matt.

>> he starts this sentence today six and a half years, a half a year in a jail, then six years in a prison.

>> taking responsibility and paying the price. but it's nothing compared to what that victim's family.

>> his life forever is going to be about trying to honor that victim.