Tessa Conradi-Marrella, President of the Pacific Northwest Paralegal Association, was just 32 years old when she died in a traffic accident on February 7, 2011.While nothing will bring Tessa back and she will forever be missed, it is comforting to know that the man responsible for her death has been sent to prison.
Tessa was doing everything right. She was wearing her seat belt. She wasn't talking on her cell phone. And she had not had any alcohol before getting into her car early in the morning of Feb. 7.
But at the intersection of Northeast Portland Highway and Cully Boulevard, the 32-year-old paralegal crossed paths with Jesse Lee Ream, who had a long history of doing everything wrong.
Ream, whose blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit more than three hours after the crash, T-boned a borrowed Chevy Suburban into Conradi-Marrella's Kia Sportage, killing her instantly.
Ream entered a guilty plea to manslaughter and no contest to failure to perform duties of a driver, driving while intoxicated and other counts in July. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Janice Wilson cited his 22-year-long record of alcohol-fueled arrests, convictions and driving infractions in sentencing him to 20 years and seven months in prison, imposing the maximum penalty for first-degree manslaughter and four other counts and ordering Ream to serve them consecutively.
The decision followed a long apology by Ream and nearly five hours of emotional statements from friends and family members from both sides who filled the courtroom to capacity.
Family and friends of Conradi-Marrella, wearing bracelets in her memory and T-shirts urging "Please don't drink & drive" told of her generosity, friendliness and commitment to her profession as the president of the Pacific Northwest Paralegal Association. They also talked of the devastation her death has caused the family.
Ream's legal troubles are not over. He, his sister, brother-in-law and two bars are defendants in a $7.1 million civil lawsuit filed by Conradi-Marrella's husband.