Accused Murderer Testifies in Kabrins Alban Trial

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Gabriela Kabrins Alban (right) smiles with her dad, Howdy Kabrins, in an undated photograph.

Grueling and emotional testimony was heard this past week in the trial of the man accused of murdering former Malibu resident Gabriela Kabrins Alban. The trial, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, is where the 39-year-old Alban was brutally murdered in 2015. The accused, Alban’s boyfriend Diego Novella, is finally speaking on the witness stand after delaying proceedings last week. Novella insisted on a Spanish-speaking interpreter even though the victim’s father, Malibu restaurateur Howdy Kabrins, claims Novella speaks “perfect English.” 

This week, Kabrins spoke to The Malibu Times about how the trial is progressing. Quotes from the court proceedings come from reports published by South African media.

Novella addressed Alban’s parents, Kabrins and Doris Weitz, and said, “I have no idea what you went through.” The bereaved Kabrins shouted out in the courtroom: “You have no idea!”

While questioned on the witness stand by his defense lawyer, the accused, who is a Guatemalan national, claimed that Alban had tried to attack him twice before the two traveled to South Africa together. Kabrins has maintained his daughter and only child suffered from a debilitating case of Lyme disease and was in a weakened state at the time of the murder. 

Alban’s parents—Kabrins and Weitz—with their spouses, Linda Kabrins and retired Superior Court Judge Alexander Williams—have been attending daily courtroom proceedings in the Cape Town trial. Weitz has been seen tightly clutching a framed photograph of her daughter during testimony that turned gruesome this past week as details emerged about the violent nature of the crime. Both parents and their spouses were heard weeping when the 41-year-old Novella testified that he merely “defended” himself against what he described to the court as a demon or “entity.” 

Novella has been described by the local South African press as looking “grim” when he recounted his battle against the so-called “demonic entity.” Novella claims he wrestled the “entity” to the ground and hit it until it no longer moved. Feces and a note written with profanity in Spanish were found at the crime scene—a luxury hotel room Alban and Novella were sharing. Novella testified he could not explain why he allegedly defecated on the body of the “entity” and why he placed other items at the crime scene.

The accused said after the fight with the “entity” he went to the beach at the resort where he and Alban were staying because he knew something “unpleasant” had occurred in their room. Novella was arrested on the resort grounds a short time after the murder.

Novella, who is using a defense of diminished capacity, also told the court that he heard voices in the ceiling of his hotel room and that he thought “angels” were hiding behind curtains. He claims his mind was “hijacked.”

The Guatemalan man, who had earlier been described as living a playboy lifestyle and didn’t hold a steady job, comes from a wealthy family said to be bankrolling his defense. Kabrins has claimed the defense has deep pockets and stalls the trial at every chance. In the meantime Kabrins, who has been forced to shutter his Malibu restaurants while he shuttles back and forth between Malibu and Cape Town, is using all his resources to stay in South Africa and “advocate for justice” for his only child. A crowd-funding website JusticeforGaby.com has been set up to help with expenses. Kabrins has previously vowed: “I won’t stop. I have to do everything I can to get justice for Gaby.”