Lawyer claims murder-accused Diego Novella was ‘hit’ by sick girlfriend

2017-05-23 18:58
Doris Weitz, the mother of slain American Gabriela Kabrins Alban, walks out courtroom with her husband Alexander Williams during a tea break, after testifying during Diego Novella's trial. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Doris Weitz, the mother of slain American Gabriela Kabrins Alban, walks out courtroom with her husband Alexander Williams during a tea break, after testifying during Diego Novella's trial. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Father speaks of daughter's gruesome murder in Camps Bay hotel

2016-05-27 18:09

Howdy Kabrins says his daughter Gabriela was horrifically murdered in a Camps Bay hotel suite in 2015.WATCH

Cape Town – Slain US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban was a different person after an extended period of illness and sometimes hit her then-partner Diego Novella, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

William Booth, for Novella, put this version to her mother Doris Weitz during cross-examination in his client’s murder trial.

“As a result of the deceased’s mood swings and changes in her behaviour, there were occasions where she hit the accused,” he said.

Raising her eyebrows and staring straight at him, Weitz seemed sceptical.

“I have a very hard time believing that because she could barely get out of bed. She would have trouble picking up a bottle,” the petite mother directed at Booth.

She enlightened the court on her daughter’s long medical journey – which included a misdiagnosis of Addison’s disease and severe side-effects from different medications - which left her in bed most of the time and unable to earn an income.

Booth said the accused had been very worried about Kabrins Alban’s illness and its effect on her emotionally and physically.

Novella, concerned about the pain she was in, even arranged for her to come to South Africa to receive treatment for Lyme Disease.

“I guess. But she told me she was going and that the accused was waiting for her to come but as a friend.”

Frustrated about illness

She also said that while Novella cared for her daughter “a little bit”, her daughter had had to take care of various issues in his life.

“She told me that he was just too lazy to take care of his own matters and that even though she was so sick, she was the one who researched, got an attorney, tried to help him get a visa. He also had some outstanding arrest warrants in the United States so she helped him to get a lawyer.”

Novella was arrested after his American girlfriend was found dead in their room at the Camps Bay Retreat Hotel in Cape Town in July 2015. He pleaded not guilty to the murder.

According to Novella, she had acted in an erratic fashion from time to time, had mood swings and would get very depressed.

Weitz’s experience was that her daughter had been very frustrated about her illness and its effect on her life.

“I felt that somebody that spent so many hours in bed, it would be normal for them to be depressed but she did not think she was depressed.” Her psychologist also did not think she was depressed.

Her daughter had seemed very happy with Novella at one point, she said.


One day, Weitz got a text message from Novella asking her to phone him. When she did, he apparently said “come and get her” after her daughter had fallen and hurt her coccyx.

“What I thought is that there was no accident, falling off the chair, but that the accused had something to do with it,” Weitz said.

Booth disputed this and said Novella had called because he was concerned. He had also taken her to hospital. Weitz said he never expressed concern in that phone call.

“You weren’t there,” said Booth. “You weren’t either,” retorted her mother.

She added: “She was upset about being taken to what she called the worst hospital in Guatemala. She told me telephonically when she got home after that. I got the impression that he was fed up with her."

Her daughter left their shared home in Guatemala City to return to Los Angeles “without explanation” at the end of 2014.

While settling her daughter into her own apartment over the next few days, she noticed she was upset and sad. It also surprised her that the couple had not contacted each other.

“I could see that she was anxious to hear from him. So I asked her. She told me he had not contacted her. She told me it was over with the accused.”

The trial continues.

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

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