NEW: An Ohio grand jury has indicted Matthew Cordle
In an online video, he confessed that his drunken driving killed a man in June
Prosecutor: There will be no leniency based on the video
Defense: Cordle wanted to raise drunken driving awareness, give closure to victim's family
A driver who confessed in an online video that his drunken driving killed a man now faces a homicide charge.
A grand jury in Franklin County, Ohio, indicted Matthew Cordle on Monday on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, more than two months after the deadly wrong-way collision.
The 22-year-old’s online admission that he was to blame has been watched more than a million times on YouTube.
Now, Ohio’s legal system must decide what punishment fits his crime. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of eight and a half years in prison, prosecutor Ron O’Brien said.
“My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani,” he says in the video posted last week.
In the video, he recounts how he was out with friends, drank heavily and lost control the night of June 22.
Canzani, 61, died when a wrong-way driver hit his Jeep on Interstate 670 near Columbus, Ohio.
The video was posted on a website called “because I said I would,” which provides a forum for people to make promises to others.
Some viewers were impressed by Cordle’s apparent courage and his plea, “I’m begging you, please don’t drink and drive.”
But some viewers thought the video was “a crock,” in the words of one commenter on the video site, aimed at reducing Cordle’s probable prison sentence.
Remorse called genuine
Canzani’s ex-wife, Cheryl Oates, says she believes Cordle’s remorse is genuine.
“He said I made a huge mistake, and I’m going to take what’s coming to me,” Oates said. “You’ve got to respect him for that.”
Oates said Cordle should spend time in prison. But as a mother of two sons, she also feels pain for Cordle when she watches the video.
“It’s gut-wrenching coming from a mother looking at that young boy, and he just doesn’t understand the damage that he did,” she said.
Lawyer: Leniency isn’t goal
Cordle has pledged to plead guilty and said on his video, “I’m handing the prosecution everything they need to put me away for a very long time.”
O’Brien said the video has not influenced him to recommend a lighter sentence.
“We had a case against him based on the evidence as I know it before the video was filmed,” he said.
Cordle’s lawyer, George S. Breitmayer III, said leniency was not the goal of Cordle’s video.
“Despite any speculation of his intentions, the video was meant to raise awareness related to the serious issues surrounding drinking and driving,” the defense lawyer said in a statement sent to CNN. “In addition, (Cordle) hopes his confession will offer the Canzanis some level of closure by avoiding any lengthy, drawn out legal proceedings.”