YouTube Drunk Driving Confessor Leaves Judge ‘Incensed’
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — An Ohio judge was visibly angry when the man who posted an emotional video confession online, admitting to killing a man in a June drunk driving accident, blindsided the court by pleading not guilty.
“I’m sorry you all came. I’m sorry you all came for this whole big thing,” Judge Julie Lynch told the court on Tuesday. “There’s no reason to be arraigned here.”
Lynch was presiding over the Columbus, Ohio, court for the arraignment of 22-year-old Matthew Cordle, who was indicted this week for one count of aggravated vehicular homicide for causing the death of Vincent Canzani, 61, on June 22, and one count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Cordle turned himself in to police on Monday.
Cordle made headlines after his video confession to killing Canzani went viral last week. In the video, he said he’d take full responsibility and plead guilty. But Lynch told ABC News that Cordle’s lawyers decided that Cordle would plead not guilty at the last minute.
“Everything was going to be guilty,” she said of the court date. “I’m somewhat incensed by somebody who isn’t forthright with the court.”
So why would Cordle plead not guilty despite his assertions? His attorneys told ABC News that it’s a common maneuver to get the legal ball rolling, and that they planned on changing the plea to guilty.
Cordle, who was not arraigned Tuesday after he entered the not guilty plea, is due in court Wednesday.
“I was blindsided by the fact that we didn’t go through with an arraignment, because the prosecutors that I spoke with, they knew our plan was to enter the not guilty plea,” attorney George Breitmayer III told ABC News.
Lynch said that Cordle’s attorneys are trying to game the system. Under Ohio law, entering a guilty plea locks in the judge — in this case Lynch. She said that she believes Cordle’s team got spooked after she told them she didn’t know how she’d sentence Cordle, who faces anywhere from two to eight and a half years in prison.
ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said that these factors can all make a difference in sentencing.
“It seems pretty clear he’s going to plead guilty,” Abrams said. “Once you commit to pleading guilty, there are only one a few questions left: What’s going to be the sentence? And who determines that? The judge — and which judge you get — can make a big difference.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio