Jury deliberations began Monday in the case of a Canadian man charged in murder of a 78-year-old woman in Palm Springs nearly 30 years ago.
Anton Michael Kubica, 63, of Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia, is charged with first-degree murder for the June 1990 slaying of Marie Darling and draining nearly $200,000 from her bank accounts.
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 Darling suffered multiple skull fractures and likely died from blunt force trauma.
A criminal complaint was filed against Kubica in 2014, but it took until last October to have him extradited to Riverside County from Canada.
Both sides presented their closing arguments Monday morning, after which Riverside County Superior Court Judge Timothy Hollenhorst sent the jury behind closed doors to begin weighing evidence from the roughly monthlong trial.
The prosecution relying on circumstantial evidence while the defense says the case is fiction and there is not enough evidence for a conviction.
"No way! You can't convict somebody on this evidence," said Defense Attorney John Patrick Dolan.
Dolan argued that there is no direct evidence linking Kubica to the murder.
"Nothing! Nothing! You can't make up intent. You can't tell a story and have it substitute for proof," Dolan added.
Prosecutor and Riverside County District Attorney Michael Hestrin is relying on circumstantial evidence to prove Kubica not only killed Darling, but developed an elaborate plan with his late wife to commit the crime.
"Those that did it must have thought they committed the perfect crime because let's face it, they got away with it for many many years," Hestrin said.
Prosecutors pointed out a number of incidents, including the perpetrators entering Darling's home and taking $2,000 from a safe. Prosecutors allege Kubica 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.
Prosecutors added that bank records indicate that Kubica's wife deposited $2,000 hours after the murder.
"Her killers made critical mistakes all the way through," Hestrin said.
During the initial investigation into the 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 February.
"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,
Dolan continued to argue there is simply no evidence.
"There's no eyewitnesses. There's no evidence that connects him to her house. That connects him to her car," Dolan said.
The jury is slated to resume deliberations on Tuesday at about 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Banning Justice Center. Kubica is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage.