Closing arguments are expected Wednesday in the trial of a 63-year-old Canadian man accused of killing a Palm Springs woman nearly 30 years ago and draining the senior citizen’s bank accounts of more than $180,000.
Anton Michael Kubica, of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, is being tried on a first-degree murder charge at the Banning courthouse.
He’s accused in the slaying of Marie Darling whose remains were found scattered around a 200-yard area by hikers in the desert east of the Cactus City rest stop on June 20, 1990. An autopsy showed the 78-year-old victim suffered multiple skull fractures.
Prosecutors allege Kubica killed Darling prior to transferring large sums of her money into his bank accounts to primarily cover outstanding mortgage payments in order to stave off foreclosure on a Palm Springs home he owned.
A motion filed in April by Kubica’s attorney, John Dolan, sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that there is no physical evidence that connects his client to the murder.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Russell Moore ultimately sided with the prosecution, which countered that although there are no eyewitness accounts, or DNA evidence, the “mountain of circumstantial evidence” in the case pointed to Kubica as the prime suspect.
A criminal complaint was filed against Kubica in 2014, but it took until last October to have him extradited to Riverside County from Canada.
During the initial investigation into Darling’s death, investigators found two safes at her condominium, one of which was open. An empty currency wrapper for $2,000 was found in a trash can near the open safe, now-retired Palm Springs police Detective Carl Carter testified at the defendant’s preliminary hearing.
In 1993, Carter led the murder investigation and went to Kubica’s then primary home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“There was a plethora of evidence at his home,” Carter testified. “It included a receipt for duct tape, travel to St. Maarten, manifests from St. Maarten to Anguilla in the Caribbean. There was a passport we located. We located banking information from the bank in Anguilla. We located banking information from the Royal Bank of Canada.”
Darling’s family attorney found that in June 1990, nearly $185,000 was transferred from her Swiss bank accounts to a bank in Anguilla, with the transfers accompanied by a letter signed “Marie.”
Bank records from Anguilla allegedly showed Kubica withdrew $170,000 from the account, with some of the money transferred to the Royal Bank of Canada. Kubica allegedly established the Bank of Anguilla account on May 24, 1990.
Kubica is being held at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facilty in Banning in lieu of $1 million bail.