Suspected Gaby Kabrins Alban Murderer Said He Killed With His ‘Hands,’ Not ‘Mind’

Howdy Kabrins (left) with wife Linda in the Cape Town courtroom

As if losing his only child to a gruesome murder wasn’t painful enough, Malibu’s Howdy Kabrins says he’s about to face “the most horrific day in court so far” this week in the agonizing, nearly year-long trial in his daughter’s murder. The defendant in the case, Diego Novella, is now entering his fourth week of cross-examination testimony in Cape Town, South Africa, for the murder of 39-year-old Gabriela Kabrins Alban, a Pepperdine University graduate. Alban’s boyfriend, a Guatemalan national, has already admitted in court when asked, “Who killed Gabriela Kabrins Alban?” he responded, “It was my hands, but not my mind.”  

The defense is claiming diminished capacity in the murder due to the intoxicated state of the defendant who claims he was under the influence of a cocktail of drugs including cannabis, Sceletium and even over-the counter medications he took before the murder July 29, 2015. On the witness stand during the past three weeks, Novella testified that his mind had been “hijacked” and that he wrestled with a “demonic entity” on the day of the murder.

Kabrins, a well-known restaurateur, spoke to The Malibu Times several times by phone this week as he braces himself for what he says will be a very difficult time in court for him, his wife Linda, Alban’s mother Doris Weitz and her husband Alexander Williams. The four plan to be present in court as the defense presents what Kabrins termed “visual evidence of how my daughter was treated,” adding, “it’s hard for consumption.” Alban was viciously murdered and her body desecrated in a luxury Camps Bay hotel room in Cape Town, South Africa where she and Novella were staying as she sought treatment for Lyme disease. 

“Showing photos and asking why he did what he did—why he left a note on her body—graphic testimony,” Kabrins described. “I’ve seen some of the photos and as much as I’d like to compartmentalize, it’s hard to get rid of those images.”

Although divorced from Weitz, Kabrins said the four, who have been at the trial for months, are putting up a united front as they advocate for their daughter in court daily. Kabrins has maintained that he and his family’s presence in Cape Town is a strong reminder for the judge that his daughter’s loss has left a family grief stricken.

There is no jury in the trial—only a judge, Vincent Saldanha. Despite the pace of the trial being “at a crawl” according to Kabrins, he has had nothing but praise for the judge, saying Saldanha has been “overly cautious” citing other murder cases that were appealed on technicalities. “The judge handles things magnificently.”

As Kabrins explained the latest twist in the past drama-filled weeks that delayed the trial again, a new interpreter was found for Novella who is a native Spanish speaker, but according to Kabrins speaks perfect English as well. South African law recognizes 11 different dialects and requires a defendant to have an interpreter in their “mother tongue.” 

While Novella’s testimony has been rambling and combative at times, Kabrins said, “His testimony, in reality is—everything he’s doing is going to the heart of his lies.” At one point last week during what was described as grueling cross examination of Novella, the emotional strain was too much to bear for Kabrins and his family who left the courtroom when Novella tried to engage them directly.

The trial is expected to continue for a few more months, with testimony from three more expert witnesses and then closing arguments. Once over, Kabrins has vowed to “do something special in Gabriela’s name.” He has spoken of building a foundation to assist abused women and those hurt by domestic violence. 

Kabrins also sent an “hola” to all his friends and supporters in Malibu. He said he would like to return home, but will continue his fight for justice in South Africa. 

To help cover expenses while Kabrins is unable to operate any restaurants at this time, an online fundraising account has been set up. Contributions can be made at