Flanked by relatives and wearing large, designer sunglasses to cover her face, Cory Sause strode briskly on her high heels past the Kibler family and into the Clackamas County Courthouse on Tuesday.
The awkward, first-time contact between the Kiblers and the woman who killed their loved one passed without verbal or physical acknowledgement.
Later, after Sause pled guilty to three counts stemming from the Dec. 21, 2004, car crash that killed 21-year-old Patrick Kibler, the Kiblers took turns telling Sause how the accident continues to haunt their family and how they pray constantly for Sause to change her ways.
'It's amazing this day is finally here,' Patrick's mother, Vicki Kibler told Sause. 'Our lives will be intertwined forever.'
The fatal crash, which took place on South Shore Boulevard in Lake Oswego, also injured Kibler's younger brother, Scott. Sause, 27, had a blood-alcohol level of .19 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.
'I don't think any of us harbor animosity toward you,' said Patrick's father, John Kibler, as he choked back emotion. 'The feelings we have are of extreme sadness … The one good thing to come out of this is if it helps your life in the future.'
Sause showed little reaction as Judge Robert Selander handed down a combined plea bargain sentence of 60 months with the Oregon Department of Corrections with potential for an 'alternative program,' such as an alcohol-treatment program, after 33 months served.
Additionally, two counts of possession of a controlled substance were dismissed while the original second-degree manslaughter charge was reduced to criminal negligent homicide.
The agreement was reached this summer between the Clackamas County district attorney's office and Sause's attorney, Stephen Houze. Houze is known for defending several high-profile clients that include then-Portland Trail Blazer Damon Stoudamire, Portland police officer Gina Hoesly and Taliban supporter Maher 'Mike' Hawash.
Selander called the sentence 'necessary and appropriate.'
Clutching a cross on a gold chain, Sause made occasional eye contact with the Kiblers and fidgeted in her chair. Occasionally, she leaned over to whisper to Houze or turn to look at her family.
Relatives on both sides of the courtroom dabbed their eyes as Vicki Kibler recalled the last day she spent with her son, an Abercrombie and Fitch clothing model and George Fox University student who planned to move to New York City with his fiance.
Her three sons put up the Christmas tree and Patrick, who decided the tree needed a 'heart,' stuffed a bundle of lights into its center.
The tree stayed up for the next year and a half.
'That is an example of what Patrick was all about,' Vicki Kibler said. 'We kept the tree up because it was the most real, tangible connection we had with Patrick … the tree with the blinking heart.'
Sause offered no reply or words of remorse throughout the hour-long plea bargain, which drew Kibler and Sause family members from Lake Oswego and out-of-state. Instead, Houze spoke on her behalf.
'Cory Sause is a person of true substance,' Houze said. 'She is actually a remarkable young woman … We will look back on this as an opportunity to live our lives the best we can and help our fellow man. That's the mission she set herself. She will make us proud.'
As her family filed out of the courtroom, officers handcuffed Sause and led her away. She was immediately transported to the all-female Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville.
Sause's driver's license was revoked on Tuesday for the first time since the accident, though Deputy District Attorney Michael Regan said Sause has not driven in the past two years.
At Houze's request, however, the district attorney's office approved several trips Sause took to Honolulu, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
Honoring such requests isn't out of the norm, Regan said.
'Most people don't have the (financial) means to go on trips, but of course, this family does,' Regan said. 'We were never concerned she was going to flee.'
The Kiblers plan on filing a civil suit against Sause to re-coup the 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' they spent in the accident's fallout, Vicki Kibler said. Scott Kibler, a Lakeridge High School student who was in a coma for seven days, continues to undergo treatment for neurological problems.
Sause, whose family lives in an upscale gated community in Lake Oswego and raises Polish Arabian horses at their farm in North Bend, was uninsured at the time of the accident.
'I would love to move forward and encourage Cory and be her friend,' Vicki Kibler said. 'We don't want Cory's life to become another victim in all of this.'
Although she was a law student at Lewis and Clark College at the time of the crash, school records show Sause did not graduate. Law students have a minimum of five years to complete their degree and face significant complications passing the state bar exam if they have a criminal record.
Kibler offered to meet with Sause several times in the past and told the court she hopes Sause will join her to speak publicly about drunken driving.