A Riverside County judge Monday reserved a decision on whether charges should be dropped against a Canadian man accused of killing a Palm Springs woman almost 30 years ago to steal her money, saying additional time was needed to consider the defense’s motion in favor of voiding the case.
Anton Kubica, 62, of British Columbia is charged with first-degree murder for the 1990 slaying of 78-year-old Marie Darling.
Superior Court Judge Russell Moore was petitioned by Kubica’s attorney, John Dolan, who argued there were no grounds to validate a murder count against his client because there is no forensic link between the man and the crime.
Dolan’s motion contends that “there (is) no reasonable or probable cause” in the case, citing testimony from lead investigators that no physical evidence connects Kubica to Darling’s murder.
Following a preliminary hearing in February at the Indio courthouse, another judge, Edward Forstenzer, found there was sufficient evidence to move the case to trial, pointing to Kubica’s own alleged statement to an acquaintance that he had “killed someone and buried their body in the desert.”
A criminal complaint was filed against the defendant in 2014, but it took until last October to have him extradited to Riverside County from Canada.
Dolan argued there was “serious prejudice” against his client because there was “zero explanation” for the delay in charges, where no new evidence was contributed prior to the 2014 filing. He also argued that the delay complicates the case as it is “hard to bring on deceased people” in defense of his client.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a rebuttal motion stating there is a “mountain of circumstantial evidence” supporting the theory that Kubica killed Darling.
Moore scheduled another hearing for April 29 to announce his decision on the defense’s motion.
According to testimony from the preliminary hearing, among the items collected as evidence against Kubica was a Wells Fargo deposit slip dated June 5, 1990, for $2,000 found at the defendant’s residence.
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.
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 body was found by hikers on June 20, 1990, in the desert east of the Cactus City rest stop. An autopsy showed she had multiple skull fractures.
The remains were spread around an area of 200 yards, which surrounded a shallow grave that was “intertwined” with a sleeping bag, Carter said.
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.
He’s being held at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta in lieu of $1 million bail.