My mind had been ‘hijacked’ Novella admitted.
‘my hands killed her but my mind did not.’ – Convicted killer, billoniare Diego Novella
Billionaire playboy is found guilty of strangling his American heiress fiancée in South African hotel and then mutilating her body for hours, and faces life behind bars at sentencing
Diego Novella, 44, strangled and smashed in the skull of Gabriela Kabrins Alban, before desecrating her body in a disgusting manner
The wealthy Guatemalan killed 39-year-old Alban after downing a cocktail of drugs at their $1,300-a-night hotel on Julay 29, 2015
Novella claimed the drugs made him KILL his fiancée, but denies committing murder
Mind-bending drug combination made Gabriela, appear as a ‘demon’ and he admitted launching a ferocious attack to ‘kill it,’ Novella testified
South African court rejected defense argument that Novella was not guilty of murdering Gabriela, because of ‘diminished responsibility due to the psychotic effects of the drug’
Judge found suspect guilty after hearing evidence of how he desecrated her body – expert pathologist estimated that after choking his fiancée to death, Novella spent up to two hours desecrating her body in a horrific manner
Tests reports of victim’s body showed no trace of any illegal drugs in her system
Novella’s sentencing was adjourned until August 7
Diego Novella [right] was found guilty of strangling American heiress Gabriela Kabrins Alban [left], after taking a massive cocktail of drugs in Cape Town, SA in Feb, 2015. The pair were engaged at the time
Billionaire playboy Diego Novella is facing life in a South African prison after being found guilty of the horrific murder and desecration of his American fiancée.
44-year-old Novella, Novella who is the son of a Guatemalan cement baron, was tried and convicted for the depraved killing of his American marketing executive fiancée in luxury South African hotel on July 29, 2015.
The charge complaint document said he strangled and smashed in the skull of 39-year-old heiress Gabriela Kabrins Alban, after downing a massive cocktail of drugs at their $1,300-a-night Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel in Cape Town.
Novella claimed the mind blowing concoction made Gabriela, the daughter of a Beverley Hills entrepreneur, appear as a ‘demon’ and he admitted launching a ferocious attack to ‘kill it.’
Novella told the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, South Africa, that he accepted that he had killed Gabriela, but denied murder, blaming the drugs for his actions.
Billionaire playboy Diego Novella is facing life in a hell-hole prison after being found guilty of the horrific murder and desecration of his American fiancée Gabriela Kabrins Alban.
Diego Novella accepted that he had killed Gabriela Alban, but denied murder, blaming the drugs for his actions. The court rejected the defense argument of diminished capacity due to excess ingestion of illegal drugs in finding him guilty
The court heard an expert pathologist estimated that after Gabriela was choked to death, her lover spent up to two hours desecrating her body in a horrific manner.
He smashed in her skull in on the bathroom floor, then jammed her throat full of food before he defecated on her face and sprinkled it with chocolates, sweets, and crisps.
The court heard there was clear evidence that he had sex with her and may have sodomized her, but Novella claimed it was consensual and took place before he killed her.
Billionaire playboy Diego Novella [left] is facing life in prison after being found guilty of the horrific murder and desecration of his American fiancée Gabriela Kabrins Alban [center]
He violated her curling tongs laid out her hair extensions between her legs. He also left a note on her breasts reading ‘cerote’ which means ‘piece of s***’ in Spanish.
Defense lawyer William Booth claimed Novella was not guilty of murdering Gabriela, but had diminished responsibility due to the psychotic effects of the drugs.
He said his client had taken cannabis, cannabis oil as well as an over-the-counter drug called sceletium, which in intoxicating doses it can cause euphoria, initially with stimulation and later with sedation.
Novella claimed that together, the drugs ‘blew his mind.’
Scientific tests on Gabriela’s body showed no trace of any illegal drugs in her system.
Her entrepreneur father Howdy, 70, has insisted his daughter was not a drug abuser.
‘The accused’s intake of cannabis, cannabis oil and sceletium caused him to be in a psychotic-like state and disinhibited and he did not act in a criminal capacity,’his attorney, Booth said.
‘He said he observed a demon (the deceased) and the intake of those substances caused this psychotic effect on him. This, in a nutshell, this is his defense.’
Judge Vincent Saldanha had been told by Novella that his cocktail of drugs made Gabriela turn into a ‘demonic entity.’
He said he thought his lover had turned into the ‘devil’ played by actress Linda Blair in 1973 film The Exorcist.
He claimed the ‘demonic entity’ attacked him and he killed ‘it’ in self-defense, but had very little memory of doing so.
Novella claimed his mind had been ‘hijacked’ and admitted ‘my hands killed her but my mind did not.’
However, state prosecutor Mornay Julius said top forensic psychiatrist Professor Sean Kaliski believed the accused had been acting with criminal capacity at the time.
Mr Julius argued that Novella was motivated by a deep anger influenced by the drugs adding.
‘We submit that the level of intoxication is very exaggerated by the accused to help his case,’ he said.
Meanwhile Gabriela’s father Howdy Alban, added that he would call for the death penalty for his daughter’s murderer.
Gabriela’s father Howdy Kabrins ]right], seen with his formerly potential son-in-law Novella, added that he would call for the death penalty for his daughter’s killer
The court heard medical tests on Novella for drink and drugs had never been carried out.
Judge Saldanha delivered a damning judgement, ruling that Novella had effectively made up the story of ‘demons and devils’ in a bid to blame what had happened on drugs.
‘In my view you knew exactly what you were doing at that time and there was a clear intent on your part to murder the deceased and I find you are guilty of murder as charged,’ he said.
The defense claims that he had suffered a psychotic episode and was acting as an ‘automaton’ had been discredited by a panel of forensic psychiatrists who said he was acting in rage.
The accepted his drug intoxication may have exacerbated his rage but it was not a legal defense.
Novella had persuaded his LA-based lover to join him in South Africa in 2015 where he had been attending a spiritual center, believing it could help treat her Lyme disease.
However, before her treatment could begin, had taken a huge cocktail of drugs and attacked Gabriela in their villa.
Novella attacked his fiancée at their $1,300-a-night hotel villa in Cape Town.
The PR entrepreneur met her death in their luxury suite Villa Room 14 which had its own private pool in the luxury hotel’s grounds that are set on four acres of a nature reserve overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Staff at the Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel in Cape Town said that around the time of the killing, he was seen in the foyer ‘playing air guitar’ and ranting at stained glass windows.
When shocked room service staff later found Gabriela’s desecrated body, the police were called in. Even hardened detectives admitted what they found ‘shocked them to the core.’
Diego Novella [photo], during the trial in Cape Town, SA was accused of strangling and smashing in the skull of the American fiancee in a hotel where they were staying in Cape Town, South Africa
Novella was arrested and he has remained in custody in a hospital prison wing since the killing on July 29, 2015.
Gabriela’s father 70-year-old Howdy Alban and second wife Linda, 73, have attended all 125 days of the trial along with her mother mum Doris Weitz, 66, and her husband, retired US judge Alexander Williams, 73.
All four said they were determined to ensure justice for former talented Pepperdine University communications graduate Gabriela, who ran her own successful marketing company in the US.
Howdy Kabrins said his daughter first dated Novella at college, but ended the relationship because of his drug habit. She later married top US pediatrician Dr Blake Alban, 41.
But after they divorced, Novella contacted her in 2013 via social media and they began dating again.
‘Gaby was vulnerable because her marriage had broken down and a romance developed and shortly before she was murdered she indicated they may have children together,’ Howdy said.
‘Novella appeared to be clean from drugs or else Gaby would not have gone anywhere near him.
‘In late 2014, I went to visit them in Guatemala and was shocked to find a figure 13 tattooed on the side of his neck as in South America and the US that is the sign of the Mexican drug mafia.
Room 14 at the camps bay retreat hotel. Staff found Gabriela Alban dead, her body desecrated in this room, on July 29, 2015
Staff at the Camps Bay Retreat boutique hotel in Cape Town which overlooks the [photo] ocean found the victim’sr body. Novella reportedly, strangled and smashed in his lover’s skull after downing a massive cocktail of drugs.
‘I found him to be aggressive and I didn’t get a good vibe about him but my daughter was a grown woman what could I do?
‘I very much liked her first husband, but I did not like this new guy.’
He continued: ‘Fast forward to 3am on July 29, 2015, and I got a call as did my ex-wife Doris from the State Department Office telling us Gaby had been murdered and Novella had been arrested.
‘I went to South Africa with my wife Linda and Doris went with her husband and we brought her body home to Los Angeles for a Jewish burial and I vowed to get justice for my daughter right then.
‘Cape Town has pretty much become my home now as I began investigating for myself and vowed to turn over every stone for evidence and have sat in court every day since the trial began.
‘When I first saw him in court I had to be held back by friends as I wanted to assault him.
‘This journey since Gaby’s murder has been an enormous emotional and physical and financial strain on us all but it is what I had to do for her and I am glad that it is now finally over.
‘He murdered and desecrated and humiliated our daughter and now I don’t sleep at night anymore.
‘I thank God for the friends I have back in the USA and all the friends I have made in South Africa who have kept us all strong and supported us every inch of the way to get justice.
‘The initial stories that hit the press were that they were on a drug and sex orgy that went wrong but that has been proved to be lies. It was a horrific and cold blooded evil murder.’
Howdy added that he would call for the death penalty for his daughter’s murderer.
He said: ‘There is no death penalty here but if there was I would call for it.
From college sweethearts to murderer and victim: Novella [left], killed with Gabriela Alban, [right] with his bare hands before desecrating her body while on a narco binge
LA restauranteur, Howdy Kabrins said his daughter first dated Novella at college, but ended the relationship because of his drug habit. After her divorce, they reconnected
‘I just pray that as a very rich man from a very privileged background he does not get put into a privileged prison facility.
‘I do not want him able to buy himself an easy way to spend life behind bars. I want him to suffer.
‘I know the stories of what mainstream prisons are like in South Africa and I want him inside there so he feels the terror and the fear he put Gaby through for the rest of his unnatural life.
‘Life without Gaby is so incredibly hard. I always wanted to create a legacy for our only child and her grandchildren. This beast has taken all that away. He has taken our dreams from us.
‘It hurts so deep, so deep. Her mother and I miss her so much. Everyone who knew her does.’
He said he to set up an organization in his daughter’s name that will make a difference helping abused women and teaching male adolescents ‘how to grow into men learning to respect and care for women.’
He said: ‘I can’t bring Gaby back but now I can move forward and do something special in her name. I want to put something in place that keeps her name alive forever and will make a difference.’
Although Kabrins would rather much prefer that his daughter’s killer face capital punishment, there is much to be said for the frightening environment where Novella will likely spend the rest of his days.
The billionaire Playboy will forfeit a luxurious life of jet-setting and fast cars in exchange for the new reality of life sentence in one of the most horrific jails in the world.
Diego Novella [photo], grew up the fourth youngest in a family of the seven children of a prominent and wealthy family in Guatemala‚ used to the trappings of privilege and the finest things.
Following his conviction, his life will be taking a dramatic turn.
He will shortly be released from the safety of the hospital into the main prison where he will face a daily battle for survival unless he can buy protection.
Pollsmoor Prison in the south African port city of Cape Town, was built for 4,336 men but has more than 7,500 locked inside. Run by brutal rival gangs, violent attacks and gang rape is what greets most new arrivals. Given his wealthy background, a foreigner like Novella is likely to be targeted from the moment he arrives.
Novella [right], relaxing with Gabriela, [left] at the luxury hotel before he killed her in July of 2015, two years after the former college sweethearts re-connected.
Described as ‘ a human zoo,’ by actor Ross Kemp after visiting Pollsmoor for his documentary Ross Kemp on Gangs.. Kemp went on record to say ‘I am frightened. Not even the warders inside here are safe.’ Significantly, there is only one warder per 100 inmates and at night, the warders leave.
Cells built to take 30 men are often filled with up to 80 violent prisoners who have to share one filthy communal toilet. Most have to sleep on the floor and many are without any blankets.
If Novella is forced to join a Numbers Gang inside – either the 26s, 27s or 28s – he will be expected to be a member’s ‘wife’ and if he does not obey their rules, can face murder, mutilation or gang rape.
If however, he doesn’t join a gang he will not have their protection and will be forced to fend for himself unless he can ‘buy’ the protection.
The high inmate murder rate aside, there is a huge suicide risk and inmates in such cramped conditions often contract tuberculosis or Weil’s Disease from the rats as well as the huge risk of HIV infection. The prognosis is that Novella’s only hopes of surviving the likely life sentence is a transfer to a safer prison.
Vindication – Howdy Kabrins (left) with wife Linda in the Cape Town courtroom said after the verdict was handed down: ‘I promised when she was murdered that I would over the sun to get justice for my daughter and I have done what I promised and he is guilty.
However, Gabriela’s father said: ‘I want him in Pollsmoor for every day for the rest of his life.
‘His money should not buy him protection. Gaby had no protection. He does not deserve protection. If justice is to be done he should be locked up in there and face the terrors my daughter did.’
Outside court, Gabriela’s father added: ‘I promised when she was murdered that I would over the sun to get justice for my daughter and I have done what I promised and he is guilty.
‘When the judge ruled it was murder I just felt that her father and mother had done exactly what they had set out to do and to see him being cuffed and taken down – that was for Gaby.’
Novella’s sentencing was adjourned until August 7 for the preparation of reports.