A Carroll Circuit judge ordered a Reisterstown woman convicted of bigamy to get counseling and offered her a chance yesterday to wipe the felony from her criminal record.
Laura Lee Marsden, 28, was convicted in August of marrying a Howard County man in Carroll two years ago while she was married to a man in Baltimore County. Police believe she may have been married to at least one other man, in Baltimore County.
Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., who had never before presided over a big amy case, imposed a suspended six-month sentence and told Marsden to ask him to modify the sentence after she is seen by a psychiatrist.
"Right now, I don't feel I have anything to base a sentence on," the judge said.
Prosecutors weren't seeking jail time on the bigamy count, which carries a maximum nine-year sentence.
Marsden served seven years in a California juvenile detention center for the 1982 murder of her boyfriend.
"I just want someone to address her past. I'm not suggesting that we lock her up," Assistant State's Attorney Barton F. Walker III said after Marsden was sentenced. "She may have some troubles, and she needs to confront them."
Judge Beck told Marsden to seek a sentence modification within three months, saying he might change her sentence to probation before judgment. That would allow Marsden to wipe the conviction from her record after completing probation.
According to press accounts and court officials in Carroll and in California, 17-year-old Laura Lee Feist -- Marsden's maiden name -- shot and killed her boyfriend on May 11, 1982, then turned the gun on herself, inflicting a shoulder wound.
She was arrested, and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder that November. An Orange County, Calif., judge sentenced her to the California Youth Authority. An authority spokesman said she was released from supervision in March 1990.
Marsden's was a troubled youth filled with drugs, violence and frequent running away from home.
She "was 14 the first time she ran away from home, and during the next three years she lived with her mother and stepfather . . . no more than half the time," the Los Angeles Times reported in September 1992. "She spent the rest of her time with either friends or acquaintances, sometimes for just a few days. Miss Feist got into drugs and sex, and once reportedly attacked the mother of an acquaintance."
The newspaper said she wanted to kill her boyfriend so the two could "be buried together."
Little was made of her second-degree murder conviction yesterday. Aside from Mr. Walker's brief mention of her incarceration, neither the judge nor defense attorney Michael A. Fry directly addressed her past.
"She's worked very hard in her life, and she's had some difficulties," Mr. Fry said during the hearing. "Her background is very good. There's still some hope for Ms. Marsden."
Marsden apparently moved to Maryland within a year of being released from youth authority custody but while she was under the supervision of the CYA. She has family here, Mr. Fry said, and until quitting recently, she held jobs as a counselor at the Baltimore Association of Retarded Citizens and as an assistant in a medical office.
Court records show that she used her stepfather's last name of Bush when she married William John Januska in Towson on Dec. 29, 1989. In June 1991, still using the name Laura Lee Bush, she married Paul Ray Marsden in Carroll County. Court records show that she may have been married to another Baltimore County man at the time.