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The Victoria Advocate - Harris County charges Victoria woman with murder
Victoria Advocate
Monday, November 18th, 2002

A Victoria woman has been charged in a Harris County court with murdering her husband in Victoria.

Mariela Quinonez Karbowski, 29, is accused of beating her estranged husband, Terry Karbowski, 63, to death with a two-slice toaster in early August when he came to her Victoria home on a visit from Houston. Then, charges allege, she drove his body, the toaster and a gun through Houston to Liberty County where she threw all three in a rain-swollen Trinity River a short distance from a bar owned by Karbowski and run by the man's son in the town of Liberty.

Lead investigator Detective Bill Lanier of the Harris County Sheriff's Office said, "She came up here to our office in Houston and was interviewed and she confessed, gave a written statement."

The man was reported by employees as missing on Aug. 5 when he didn't show up for work at the fence company he owned in Houston. He had reportedly come to Victoria Aug. 2.

Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch, an organization that helps people look for missing family members, has worked with the Karbowski family ever since Karbowski was reported missing. He said, "I don't believe in psychics, but we've solved two or three cases using them. She said she went to a psychic and he said to go to the Trinity River at Highway 90."

Karbowski's psychic may or may not exist.

Miller said that he had encouraged Mariela Karbowski to take a polygraph test to put to rest suspicions that she knew what had happened to her husband. Miller said that it was her performance on the polygraph test that triggered the interrogation that culminated in the confession.

Lanier said, "We had a little chat. She didn't just walk in and say, 'Hi, I did it.' We sat down and had a long talk and discussion. She said that the incident occurred in front of her home there in Victoria and that she had transported him in his truck from Victoria to Houston through Houston to Liberty County to a point at the Trinity River and Highway 90 where she left the body under the Highway 90 bridge, which goes over the Trinity River. It is in the city limits of Liberty within 75 yards of his River Bend beer joint."

Before her confession, Harris County detectives had worked with Victoria police investigating the case. Goliad County property owned by Karbowski was searched at Harris County sheriff's officers' request by Goliad sheriff's officers and officers from several other agencies.

"She said she acted alone," Lanier said. "She was bonded out on Oct. 7 under a $10,000 bond. She was filed on in the 178th District Court in Harris County. I conferred with Victoria police, who conferred with their DA and the DA in Victoria declined to take the case. I conferred with a DA here in Harris County and she accepted charges due to the fact that (Mariela Karbowski) traveled through Harris County."

So charges were brought in Harris County, despite the fact that the crime was alleged to have taken place in Victoria County. Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler is prosecuting the case, which she said was offered for trial both to Liberty County and to Victoria County, both of which refused it. She said, "She's charged with murder, a first-degree felony. I was called at night and we took the charges because she's a murderer and she's not going to get away with it. I think that murderers ought to be tried in the county where they commit their crime, but if Victoria County chooses not to do that in this case, Harris County will step up to the plate. If I'd have said no, she'd have never been charged."

Siegler said that 178th District Court Judge William Harmon was displeased that the case ended up in Harris County.

There is apparently still a possibility the case will be tried in Victoria County.

Victoria County District Attorney Dexter Eaves said his office is waiting on the results of an analysis of evidence at a forensic lab before taking the case before a grand jury.

The confession is not enough. "The problem is we have to be able to corroborate it," Eaves said. "That is what we are doing it right now."

"I am not going to go forward till we are ready," he said. "I would like to have all the information before I go forward and not just charge people, just to charge them."

Eaves said he and Siegler have an agreement that if Victoria opts to charge Karbowski then the charge in Harris County would be dropped. "(Harris County) knows we are going to press forward with this case," Eaves said.

Miller and Karbowski's son Bruce Karbowski came to Victoria Oct. 9 to get back from Mariela his dad's truck, which had been released to her after it was found in the parking lot of a bar in Houston. Miller said at the time, "We're trying to get the vehicle. We truly feel as though Mariela has too much family in Mexico, many, many relatives in Mexico, and that she is a flight risk."

They also came to Victoria last week with private investigator Mark Young, who has been working on the case. Miller said they asked the Victoria District Attorney's office to take the case.

Siegler said, "We go back to court Dec. 6 and I'm to tell Judge Harmon what Victoria's going to do."

Just after Mariela Karbowski's arrest, Harris County Detective Lanier said, "We haven't recovered the body or even just a bone, since we got a thing called DNA. This is a strange case; it's like chewing whale blubber - the more you chew the bigger it gets.

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