Odds 'just too great' for woman found dead in Camps Bay hotel, court hears

2017-10-11 18:10
Gabriela Alban. (Picture Facebook)

Gabriela Alban. (Picture Facebook)

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Cape Town – Strangulation, significant blunt force trauma and air obstruction meant the "odds were just too great" for murdered American marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban to survive, the Western Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.

"I will give a guarded response in that I generally believe that individuals have a certain level of resilience. And often, even in the worst circumstances, some individuals are able to pull through," forensic pathologist Dr Itumeleng Molefe told prosecutor Louise Friester-Sampson.

"However, in this particular deceased, the odds were just too great.”

Friester-Sampson had asked if it was possible to survive the various injuries.

Molefe was continuing her testimony during the trial of Diego Novella, who stands accused of killing Kabrins Alban, 39, at the Camps Bay Retreat Hotel in July 2015.

He pleaded not guilty and was set to argue diminished responsibility due to drug intoxication.

Dressed in a black leather jacket and dark clothing, he appeared calm as the court looked at post-mortem photos.

The deceased's parents on the other hand - mother Doris Weitz, father Howdy Kabrins, and their partners – winced, sighed and shook as the pathologist detailed the injuries.

Molefe said that the number and distribution of injuries to two layers of the scalp meant there was significant violence or force to the head.

This could be "multiple hard kicks to the head or possibly banging the head against a hard surface against the floor or wall".

Some strands of her relatively thick hair, which would have served as another layer of scalp protection, were pulled off the head.

She had bruises on various parts of her body, including multiple bruises on her thigh.

"My interpretation is that it was caused possibly by pads of the fingers, possibly as a result of trying to restrict the victim. It’s a similar mechanism as for the wounds on the upper arms and hands."

Molefe said it was tricky to accurately answer the chances of survival without having seen the clinical status of a patient.

One had to consider all the injuries as a whole.

There was significant haemorrhaging due to blunt force trauma, indicating the possibility of transferred kinetic energy to the brain and a low blood supply.

Strangulation indicated the possibility of restricted oxygen to the brain.

She also had low blood glucose in the hours before her death.

"I am of the opinion she would have at the very least suffered a concussion, which at some point, may have progressed to coma," said Molefe.

She would not have been able to inhale sufficient air as her nose was fractured and full of blood.

She also had a ball of unchewed food impacted into her mouth, which would not have allowed her to swallow or verbalise words.

The ball had a pastry appearance, an apple crumble-like smell, and three unmelted blocks of top deck chocolate attached towards the front.

"One tooth was knocked out, one was loose and one was fractured. I am of the opinion that the food bolus was impacted forcefully, possibly with a firm instrument and not just the fingers."

The trial continues.

Read more on:    gabriela kabrins alban  |  cape town  |  crime

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