I Killed a Man: How Does Matthew Cordle’s Chilling Confession Affect You?

Get the word out!

“I killed a man” is the line that is still reverberating around the world. A well-done YouTube video viewed several million times. Shocking. Awe-striking. Unbelievable.

What to make of it?

Is the confession impressive?

Is the video impressive?

Is this an attempt to get a shorter sentence?

One thing for sure: it got the attention of the world.

Matthew Cordle Main Photo

The man, Matthew Cordle lived about a hundred miles from my house. I was so struck by the case I drove to the courtroom where he was sentenced yesterday to see it firsthand.

That night
It happened about 3am, June 22, 2013. Mr. Cordle was drinking with friends. Then hopped in his Toyota Tundra and drove. Well, kinda.

He was on Interstate 670 near Columbus, Ohio barging into oncoming traffic until he hit. All banged up, 22-year-old Matthew Cordle was sent off to a hospital with broken ribs and a fractured skull. Later police informed him he had killed a man.

Cordle’s partying and irresponsible actions cost the life of 61-year-old Navy veteran, Vincent Canzani from Columbus, Ohio.

Franklin County Courtroom 6F
What a life-altering experience. A man is dead. Someone’s father. Someone’s husband. Someone needs to take responsibility. Someone needs to dole out the justice. Someone needs to receive the justice. A father and mother say farewell to their son as he goes off to prison. Tears of grief. Tears of devastation. Pain. Hurt.

A moment for real friends to shine.

Poster child
The Judge David Fais yesterday suggested a billboard with Matthew’s picture should be erected in the Columbus area as we move into the upcoming holidays. It should show him with the words that he killed a man and is in prison because of drinking and driving. Per an interview by today.com Matthew is willing to be the poster boy for such a campaign.

What was his response to Judge Fais’ sentencing? “Relief”.

Matthew said he is relieved that he has been sentenced and this thing is finally over.

Vincent Canzani’s daughter Angela testified to the court saying, “My father got a death sentence and did nothing wrong.” She noted after 8-1/2 years Matthew can come out and will still have his whole life ahead of him. Her father would never get his life back.

When Matthew was asked earlier today how that statement made him feel, his response: “It’s heartbreaking, because every word she said is true.”

Matthew’s father
In yesterday’s sentencing, Matthew’s father Dave also spoke. When he started he said, “Matthew Cordle is my son.”

I was impressed with the tremendous weight and responsibility in those words. The father of the son who has killed a man. Yet here he took full responsibility. He was saying, My son killed a man. I am father of the home where this young man was raised.

I consider him a man of courage, bravery, and responsibility.

Before I left I had a chance to speak briefly with Dave. A very gentle and cordial man. I just wanted to connect with him and encourage him.

When I first saw the video earlier this month on churchleaders.com I was awestruck. Absolutely amazed.

The video is about 3-1/2 minutes long and, as of today, has been viewed more than 2.4 million times. One of those times was in the courtroom yesterday.

I know there are varying opinions on what Matthew should have done in response to the killing but he did this. He confessed. “I killed a man.”

What caught my attention the first time I watched the video was the clear responsibility he took for his actions. He isn’t able to bring back Vincent Canzani but he was moving forward by taking responsibility.

In the video he said, “When I get charged I’ll plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family.”

After I had watched the video I tweeted:

Twitter image @admohio

I discovered there are opposing views of what Matthew’s motives may have been for creating the video.

It is very sad indeed for the victim’s blended Oates and Canzani families who have faced the death of their loved one. Very sad.

Because I said I would
On August 9, Mr. Cordle reached out to the Facebook page named BecauseISaidIWould, asking for help. I just saw that message today. Matthew wrote: “I would like to join your dream to make the world a better place. I was responsible for a drunk driving accident that caused a fatality at 3am on June 22nd of this year. The guilt is almost insurmountable at times knowing the ripple of suffering I have caused in so many lives.”

He went on to write that he sees it as his duty to live out his life and “create a positive ripple in as many people as [he] can reach.” He was asking for help with how to do it.

After discovering this message today, it gives me even more hope regarding the sincerity of Matthew’s YouTube video confession.

Yesterday when it was Matthew’s turn to speak before he was sentenced he said, “Whatever my sentence may be there is no such thing as a fair sentence when it comes to the loss of a life. The true punishment is simply living. Living with the knowledge that I took an innocent life.”

He went on to say to the families that he is “so sorry for the pain I have caused you” and “it should have been me that night, the guilty party, instead of an innocent man” with a writhe of emotion.

He ended by saying, “I will not let Vincent’s memory fade.”

Moving forward
I believe it is totally just, fair, and appropriate for Matthew to be sentenced to 6-1/2 years or even the maximum of 8-1/2 combined years of jail and prison. But what I see is the potential for good.

Mathew is still alive. He can’t change the past. But it seems he has done the best thing that he could have done in terms of taking responsibility. I don’t know all the details of whether he has properly apologized and sought forgiveness of the families he has hurt. I don’t know all that. I’ve never even spoken to Matthew, but I have heard much from him via video and also heard him speak in the courtroom yesterday.

Actually, I’m not even taking his side. Because I believe we’re not necessarily called to take sides in these situations with people, and actions, and ideologies for their own sakes, but always for a higher good. I believe we need to stand for truth and justice. With an equal amount of grace.

Jesus had the testimony of being “full of grace and truth.” We’re called to no less.

Where is the hope in this? Where is the redemption?

I do know we cannot influence the past. We do, however, have the future.

He has an experience. He has a message. And he’s telling it.


What is the best way we can make a real difference in the lives around us and prevent these tragic scenarios from playing out? Please comment below.

I have been considering how to best utilize this blog. I wanted to find a way to tell stories and not just write about stories. I’m still finding my way, but I am going to continue to discover how to do it by doing it. By writing. By telling more stories.

  • http://www.larrypoolespeaks.com/ Larry Poole

    Arlen, every word of this post kept my attention.

    What a tragic situation. I’ve experienced a gamut of emotions following this awful event and the media attention that has followed.

    In no way should Matthew be made a hero. However, if sincere (which it appears he is), many future tragedies such as this one can be prevented.

    Matthew will do his time, and then should be shown grace.

    There is a chance for redemption for everyone. That doesn’t mean the pain of the victim’s family will ever subside, but we still all have a chance at redemption.

    God takes our biggest tests and often turns them into a testimony.

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Mr. Larry, Thank you for your comment.

      Yes, how to feel about it all?

      • Ken Bellis

        Thanks for your thoughts. I have been following this since it first went viral. I think your words about his father are so touching. The sense of comfort it must have given Matt to hear his father say that on such a day! I have been awestruck at how difficult it is for society to accept that someone would actually accept responsibility and would willingly suffer the consequences. We live in such “what’s in it for me” type of world, that for someone to do what Matthew did is something many people cannot accept. I believe Matt has set the bar very high. Like you, I believe he has the power to change the future for the good. I hope prison doesn’t change him and I hope he still willing to be a role model when he is released.

        • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

          “… How difficult it is for society to accept that
          someone would actually accept responsibility and would willingly suffer
          the consequences. We live in such ‘what’s in it for me’ type of world,
          that for someone to do what Matthew did is something many people cannot

          Interesting. Is that what it is? Without question, there has certainly been suspicion regarding Mr. Cordle’s motives.

          I like your thoughts and affirmations. Thanks, Ken for your visit. I appreciate it very much.

  • http://dbartosik.com/ David Bartosik

    hadn’t heard of it before this post- and glad I stumbled on your blog- sucks and why our broken sinful world is so tragic but trusting in a sovereign God who controls it for our good even when it sucks- great post about wrestling with the challenge of difficulty with the hope of what can come out of it for al parties involved. thanks for the story man

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Thanks so much for your visit, Mr. David. Tremendous potential for good. If we’re in love with God things turn out for good. Indeed. Conditional, of course.

  • http://cbcpm.net/ Michael Andrzejewski

    I’m with you, completely. Although, no matter what I feel like he should never personally benefit from this. When he gets out he should never be able to profit from any book sales or speaking endeavors. I have no idea if he will ever have this opportunity, and realize that it’s not what you asked, but that’s my partial take on the tragedy.

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, Mr. Michael. Not sure what all his intentions are now or in the future, but I’ve heard two things: 1. He doesn’t want the victim’s memory to fade. And he pleads that others wouldn’t drink and drive.

      The whole scenario is really a ‘lemon’ since it has caused a death and caused a large dose of pain for multiple people, including his own family. One man has definitely caused pain in many people’s lives. However, I believe if this gives Mr. Cordle a platform for good and for influencing young people to change and lead lives of a higher purpose, I’m thinking he should take it. Make lemonade. Let someone else be changed. Let the thirst of another (those who may hear him) for a higher purpose be realized and satisfied.

  • http://thoughthouse.org/ Micah

    This is a great piece Arlen. I saw this video and felt so conflicted. On the one hand here was a young man whose misjudgement had resulted in the most tragic consequence, taking one life and tearing apart how many others. Yet his response to his mistake, taking responsibility for his actions in the most forthright and public way, is commendable. As were the words spoken by his father that you make mention of. It’s such a sad sad situation. And so I wouldn’t want to be so trite – for the sake those surviving the victim – as to say there’s any good that has or can come from it. But neither would I deny that Mr Cordle’s response to what he’s done is one that’s taken huge courage.

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Thanks so much, Micah for your comment. I totally understand your conflict. What do you think should be his next step since he has the ears of so many people and essentially has created a platform for himself via the video now seen more than 2.5 million times?

  • Candy Sparks

    You don’t find many people out there willing to put the blame on themselves. I loved this story that you wrote and I find myself hoping that Matthew can be that difference that ripple of positive action. We need that change in our world. We need to learn from the lessons we are given. I like how he has learned a lesson here unlike some people who keep going back to jail.

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Thanks, Candy for visiting my site and thanks for joining the conversation on Matthew Cordle. I agree with you: “I find myself hoping that Matthew can be that difference that ripple of positive action.” What else do you think Matthew should be doing right now from his cell?

  • Sarah

    Late to the conversation but I stumbled across this blog because Matthew Cordle is my younger brother. My name is Sarah and like you I was also in the courtroom that day between my mother and Vincent Canzanis ex wife Cheryl Oates. It was the 2nd hardest day of my life so far. Thank you for getting the message out there. That is what is most important in this whole situation….is that someone can learn from the bad choices Matthew made and NOT do the same thing. We have created SaveYourVictim.com in hopes to continue this message. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot Matthew can do from prison at this time so I am helping him in his efforts to hold true to his word and spread the message. Please take a look at the site and we would love to hear your thoughts info@saveyourvictim.com!

    • http://storiesmadepowerful.com/ Arlen Miller

      Thank you very much for your visit, Sarah. I just visited the site you mentioned. I can’t imagine what you may have experienced that day and through the process of all this.

      Thank you very much for what you’re doing to help Matthew. I have had contact with Matthew through jpay and he is a delight to communicate with. A very good attitude. I’ll plan to look at your site some more and send an email in a few days. I would be delighted to visit Matthew. I’ll plan to be in touch. Thanks again so much.