A Canadian man who killed a 78-year-old Palm Springs woman almost three decades ago to drain nearly $200,000 from her bank accounts has been convicted of first-degree murder.
The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments Monday morning, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst sent the jury behind closed doors at the Banning Justice Center to begin weighing evidence from the roughly monthlong trial.
Deliberations are scheduled to resume about 8 a.m.
Kubica, 63, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the nearby Smith Correctional Facility. Prosecutors allege he killed Darling just prior to transferring her money into his bank accounts, primarily to cover mortgage obligations that threatened to hasten foreclosure on a Palm Springs property he owned.
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 the victim’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 February.
In 1993, Carter led the murder investigation and went to Kubica’s then- principal residence 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 nearly $185,000 was transferred from her Swiss bank accounts to a financial repository 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 established the Bank of Anguilla account on May 24, 1990, prosecutors allege.
Darling’s remains were found scattered around a 200-yard area by hikers east of the Cactus City rest stop along Interstate 10 on June 20, 1990.
An autopsy showed the woman suffered multiple skull fractures and likely died from blunt force trauma.
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