San Jose Mercury News January 29, 1991, Section B

Lawyer calls new charges 'Scud justice'

Two wives, one or none?

Prosecutor brings new charges against defendant in bigamy case

By Ann W. O'Neill

Mercury News Staff Writer

A San Jose engineer accused of bigamy was charged Monday with spousal abuse and other sex offenses, prompting protest of "Scud justice" from his lawyer.

"This is what I call the Scud missile approach to justice," defense attorney James McNair Thompson said. "You just launch a few things out there and if something hits, great."

According to police, Steffan E. Carroll, a 40-year-old Lockheed engineer, has two mail-order brides who took turns last year sharing his bedroom. But Thompson said Carroll has only one spouse. And he's divorcing her.

Thompson, speaking outside Santa Clara County Superior Court, said Carroll "has violated no laws" and police and prosecutors who "have some problems" violated Carroll's privacy.

The lawyer said Carroll never legally married Preeya, the woman authorities say is his second wife. And, Thompson said, Carroll is in the midst of divorcing Marilyn, 22, the woman he married in Manila in September 1988.

The story has been further complicated by language barriers. Marilyn speaks Tagalog. Preeya speaks Thai. And, Thompson said, none of the lawyers can be sure what either woman told police.

But, according to interviews and court records, the following tale emerged: One year after their marriage, Marilyn was still battling immigration problems when Carroll participated in another ceremony in Thailand with Preeya, 26.

Thompson, who declined to elaborate on details of the Thai ceremony, insists it wasn't a wedding.

"Sometimes you go into a restaurant and people are singing 'Happy Birthday.' I don't think there's any legal significance to that," the layer said.

According to police reports, both women told investigators they were Carroll's wives. They said he planned to acquire at least three more mail-order brides. And, in a taped statement to police, Carroll himself admitted marrying both women, according to the court records.

The investigation began June 16 when Marilyn called police to the West San Jose condominium she, Carroll and Preeya shared and told officers her husband, jealous of another man, had slapped her.

Marilyn told police she wanted child, but that Carroll had had a vasectomy. So, she said, she met the other man through a dating service and began seeing him — with Carroll's blessing.

It was during that interview, prosecutors say, that other allegations of sexual and physical abuse emerged.

Carroll was scheduled to appear in court Monday to enter a plea to the bigamy charge, but the hearing was delayed when the additional charges were filed.