A man accused of killing a 78-year-old Palm Springs woman nearly three decades ago, then transferring large sums of her money into his bank accounts made his initial court appearance on murder charges Wednesday.
Arraignment for Anton Michael Kubica was postponed until Nov. 16, when he is due back in an Indio courtroom to enter his plea on a first-degree murder count.
Kubica, 62, of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia is accused in the 1990 killing of Marie Darling, who disappeared from her Palm Springs home in early June. Her body was found by hikers a few weeks after her disappearance in the desert east of the Cactus City rest stop, inside a sleeping bag, feet bound by duct tape.
An autopsy showed the cause of death was “blunt force trauma causing multiple skull fractures,” according to an arrest warrant declaration written by Riverside County Sheriff’s Investigator Ryan Bodmer.
Investigators say Kubica killed Darling, then began transferring her money into his bank accounts, primarily to cover outstanding mortgage payments on his Palm Springs home that was set for foreclosure.
Despite his dire financial straits, “an immediate influx of deposited cash after Darling’s murder allowed (Kubica and his wife) to make up all of the back mortgage payments with a single payment,” the declaration states.
More than a year after her death, Darling’s family attorney found that in June 1990, nearly $185,000 was transferred from her Swiss Bank accounts to a bank in the Caribbean nation of Anguilla, with the transfers accompanied by letters signed “Marie.” Bank records from Anguilla showed Kubica allegedly withdrew $170,000 from the account, with some of the money transferred to the Royal Bank of Canada.
Though none of Darling’s family members had ever heard of Kubica, investigators say Kubica’s wife — referred to as “CJ” in court documents — was Darling’s financial adviser while employed at E.F. Hutton and Merrill Lynch in downtown Palm Springs.
Kubica’s wife — who died from cancer in 2010 — denied knowing Darling when questioned by investigators in 1993, despite appointment notes seized at her home detailing meetings with Darling. Investigators say they also seized phone records confirming calls made from Kubica to Darling’s Swiss bank, documents regarding travel to Anguilla, and handwritten notes showing “research into the non-discoverable movement of currency, to include countries financial privacy laws.”
Receipts discovered at their home — including one for two rolls of duct tape on June 3, 1990 — showed that the Kubicas were in Palm Springs during the time of Darling’s disappearance, the declaration states.
Riverside County prosecutors filed murder charges against Kubica in 2014.
Kubica was extradited to Riverside County from Canada to face murder charges and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside last Thursday, where he’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
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