A Canadian man who killed a 78-year-old Palm Springs woman nearly three decades ago to drain nearly $200,000 from her bank accounts was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder.
A Banning jury deliberated one day before finding Anton Michael Kubica, 63, of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, guilty in the June 1990 slaying of Marie Darling.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst scheduled a pre-sentencing hearing for Jan. 10, when the defense is expected to submit unspecified motions related to trial proceedings. A sentencing date will likely be set at that time. Meanwhile, Kubica remains in custody without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
According to prosecutors, the defendant 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 October 2018 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, according to retired Riverside County sheriff's Detective Carl Carter.
In 1993, Carter led the murder investigation and went to Kubica's then-principal residence in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Top news of the day
"There was a plethora of evidence at his home,'' Carter testified at the defendant's preliminary hearing in February. "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 discovered 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 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, according to the prosecution.
Darling's remains were found by hikers scattered around a 200-yard area east of the Cactus City rest stop along Interstate 10 on June 20, 1990.
An autopsy revealed the woman had suffered multiple skull fractures.