How not to handle your DWI case

Prosecutors are not going easy on a 22-year-old Ohio man who killed someone while driving drunk and then gave a confession via an online video that he has said was meant to serve as a warning against drunk driving.

Matt Cordle on Wednesday pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. That came just a week after he was indicted on the charges.

Cordle will be sentenced on Oct. 10. He faces up to 8.5 years on each charge, a $15,000 fine and the loss of his driving privileges for life. That is the maximum punishment.

Cordle told the judge at Wednesday’s hearing that he doesn’t remember much about the night when he hit and killed 61-year-old Vincent Canzani. About all he can recall is that he went to a series of bars, the article said.

Cordle’s blood-alcohol level was .19 when he struck Canzani’s Jeep on June 22, according to this article from the American Bar Association. Canzani was a Navy veteran and photographer. The accident occurred while Cordle was driving the wrong way on Interstate-670.

Cordle soon posted a video online in which he said he couldn’t bring Canzani back but urged others to learn from his mistakes.
“You can still be saved,” Cordle said in the video,  “Your victims can still be saved.”

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien has said he thinks the remorse Cordle expressed in the video was real. But he disputed Cordle’s statement in the video that he could have fought the case. O’Brien called his conviction a “slam dunk,” according to the AP article.

The YouTube version of Cordle’s video has been viewed more than 2 million time; which goes to show people just can't resist watching a train wreck.

I feel a little sorry for the lawyer who represents Cordle - he clearly was left without a lot of options. However, just because someone is guilty doesn't mean they don't need a lawyer. The lawyer is still the client's voice in sentencing, and can present the positive aspects of the case - which the prosecution won't. Many times the prosecutor will do everyone possible to demonize the defendant. The lawyer's job is to show the defendant is a real person who simply made a mistake, and whose life consists of much more than that mistake.

Walter Reaves
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Criminal Defense Attorney Walter Reaves has been practicing law for over 30 years.
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