Desert Hot Springs man sentenced to 56 years in prison for murder of landlord


A man from Desert Hot Springs was sentenced today to 56 years in life for the stabbing death of his owner.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini has handed down the maximum sentence for Albert Marchain, 29, who was convicted on July 7 of the murder of Stanislaw Tokarski, 69, almost three years ago .

An Indio jury heard three days of testimony and deliberated 40 minutes before finding Marchain guilty of first degree murder. The panel also concluded that an allegation of the use of a weapon – a knife – in the commission of a murder was true.

Tokarski was killed on November 12, 2018, inside his home in the courtyard at 66940 Hacienda Avenue. The victim lived in separate accommodation at the rear of the property, which he owned, and rented the main house to the family of the accused.

Marchain admitted to killing Tokarski both after his arrest and on the stand at his trial, claiming it was an act of self-defense that occurred after his owner attacked him. He also admitted to using three weapons – two knives and a cutter – before escaping into the desert. He drove nearly 10 miles to Cathedral City, where he was arrested the next day.

In his final argument, defense lawyer Miguel Valente said his client entered Tokarski’s living quarters in the hope of recovering sensitive personal information containing his social security number that he feared Tokarski does not use to force him to sign a rental agreement. Valente alleged that following a verbal quarrel, Tokarski attacked Marchain.

"He yelled at Albert and that scared Albert. Albert turned to leave the residence when he felt something hard hit him on the head, maybe a tool," Valente said. “Albert knew that Mr. Tokarski was going to kill him.”

In his closing statement, Assistant District Attorney Gypsy Yeager repeatedly pointed out the apparent paradox in the accused’s assertion that the murder was committed in self-defense. The prosecutor noted that Tokarski was 5 feet 3 inches, 125 pounds, while the defendant was 5 feet 8 inches, 200 pounds, and was significantly younger.

"Mr. Tokarski died powerless, helpless and alone ... and he couldn't do anything about it," Yeager said, alleging that the attack stemmed from “Disrespect” that the victim allegedly showed Marchain.

"It was an ego thing. It was a pride thing. It was a respect thing," she said.

According to Yeager, the victim's injuries included stab wounds to both his back and heart, and a slit throat. The quantity and depth of the wounds showed that the defendant was a “a cold-blooded killer” who intended to end Tokarsi’s life, Yeager said.

“It’s like a direct prison. It’s brutal,” she said.

Video footage of detectives interviewing the accused was shown to jurors, in which Marchain can be heard admitting to being a regular methamphetamine user and saying he was high during the interview.

After his arrest, Marchain directed detectives to where he hid one of the knives, which was recovered by police, Desert Hot Springs Police Detective Christopher Tooth said.

When pushed by Yeager, Marchain admitted that he did not call 911 after the attack and instead fled the scene as the victim was bleeding to death.

Criminal proceedings had previously been suspended when the accused’s lawyer questioned his client’s ability to participate in his own defense. Marchain underwent a mental health assessment and a judge found him mentally
competent to stand trial.

Marchain was previously convicted of a felony in Riverside County for concealing stolen property and assaulting a peace officer.

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