On Tuesday afternoon, YouTube "confessor" Matthew Cordle will officially be charged with vehicular homicide. Cordle, who drove drunk and slammed into a 61-year-old father in mid-June, killing the man immediately, went viral last week in a pre-taped video that saw Cordle swear to take full responsibility.
"My name is Matthew Cordle, and on June 22nd, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani," Cordle states halfway through the tape, at which point his pixellated face slips into focus. "This video will act as my confession... When I get charged, I'll plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I've done to Vincent and his family."
For reasons unknown, Cordle wasn't immediately arrested and charged with the crime, even though he blew through a blood-alcohol test at more than twice the legal driving limit at the time of the accident. In the video, Cordle states that he knows the confession will act as evidence for prosecutors.
The "confession" tape, the latest in a string of Internet murder confessions this summer, attracted support and sympathy for Cordle — but his victim's daughter, Angela Canzani, felt differently. Since the crash, she told NBC, Cordle had refused to cooperate with police or their insurance company, and hadn't bothered to reach out to her, her sister, or police authorities before posting the video. She also added that his YouTube viral success "sends the wrong message."
“There’s a way to go about it,” she said. “And that wasn’t it. If he wanted to raise awareness, I mean, I would’ve commended him for that down the road, but the video is totally misleading. The motives, I believe, are so he’ll get a lighter sentence.”
Cordle fought back on the Today show, which is clearly the appropriate thing to do in this situation. “I hope the Canzani family can get some closure with this, and I pray they find peace someday," he said on television Tuesday. "This video is not about me. It's about the message."
And, even more aggravatingly: "I’m willing to take that sentence for one reason, and that reason is so that I can pass that message on to you."
"Willing" to take that sentence?
Bustle has written before about the ethical limits of confession in the Internet era. At the heart of the Cordle situation is not his "confession," but the fact that he'd spent nearly three months evading the due penalty for his crime — which, at a maximum of eight and a half years behind bars, means that Cordle will probably be out before his 30th birthday. The implication that Cordle deserves praise for not evading the criminal justice system is, in this humble writer's opinion, bat-shit crazy.
"I consulted some high-powered attorneys," recalls Cordle in the tape, "who told me stories about similar cases where the drivers got off. They were convinced that they could get my blood test thrown out. And all I would have to do for that was lie. Well, I won't go down that path."
Nothing that Cordle has done so far — the production of the tape, the broadcast appearances, the rebuttal of his victim's daughter — implies that he has any intention to make amends to Canzani's family. He's claimed that the point of his fame is the "message," i.e. "don't drink and drive" (because we haven't got anyone on that already, or anything). But more important than grandstanding on the subject of DUIs is the crime that Cordle is solely responsible for.
Which is, in plain language: ending a man's life by being dangerously, selfishly, irresponsible. None of his actions since have suggested any change in that demeanor.