Defense Rests in Kabrins Alban Murder Trial

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

Malibu’s Howdy Kabrins marked his 70th birthday in Cape Town, South Africa, last week. However, the well-known local restaurateur didn’t exactly celebrate.  It’s been a week of reflection for Kabrins, who also marked the birthday of his beloved daughter Gabriela Kabrins Alban, who would have turned 41 on May 14.

Kabrins has been in South Africa for months attending the painstakingly long murder trial of the man accused of killing Alban, Kabrins’ only child. Alban was bludgeoned to death in Cape Town nearly three years ago.  Her boyfriend, Diego Novella, from Guatemala, is accused of her brutal murder. So far, the trial has spanned 110 days in court, although there have been numerous long recesses, such as the break happening now. Proceedings were postponed after the defense unexpectedly closed its case. 

“Our jaws dropped, as we were expecting to be there for several more days with more testifying,” Kabrins said. He and his wife Linda have been in the courtroom for every session, as well as Alban’s mother Doris Weitz and her husband Alexander Williams. The murder and trial has taken its toll on Kabrins, who recently battled pneumonia and has been forced to shelve his earlier plans to open a new restaurant in Malibu.

“There is no way to describe the introspection nor the loneliness,” Kabrins told The Malibu Times from South Africa this week. “I turned 70, and I guess a lot of legacy-type thoughts occur. Once, it was to have a thousand La Salsa Taquerias. Once, it was to have a peaceful cowboy life on our ranch.  Once, it was to share the future with nietos—grandchildren. I guess none of the above will manifest. But I can dream and strive to build a legacy in my daughter’s name—that will potentially impact men and women, boys and girls around the world—to be kind and gentle and respectful to one another.”

Kabrins said he is finding significance in the number 14.

“Gaby was born on May 14. Gaby died in Room 14. This number appears everywhere for me,” the father wrote. “I asked a rabbi, what does this number mean? In Judaism, the number 14 means ‘the hand of G-d.’  So with his or her help, I will create that legacy! My prayer is that I create a foundation in Gaby’s name that will have genuine impact, worldwide.”

The defense in the case has argued that Novella wasn’t in his right mind when Alban was murdered in her hotel room that the two shared.  Alban, a Pepperdine graduate and marketing executive, was with Novella—who comes from a well-to-do family that hired expensive lawyers to defend him. Novella testified that he was under the influence of hallucinogenic substances that caused him to respond in an “abnormal manner.” He was arrested a short time after Alban’s body was discovered at the resort where they were staying.

Alban’s murder trial will continue June 6 for closing arguments and the number 14 plays a part again for Kabrins, who wrote, “CATORCE [14], is now a driving force in my life. I pray we have a ruling on June 14. And I pray that all my family and friends stay healthy and strong.  

“I pray that all who care for Gaby and my family know how grateful I am for all the love and support,” Kabrins continued. “It is clear that not just here in Cape Town, but across the world, all of us must come to an entire new approach, as to issues of fear and anger. I hope I am not sounding too prophetic, but we must learn a new language. And men must mentor boys in kindness and patience and love.” 

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