Gabriela Alban's body was found in a Camps Bay hotel. Picture Facebook
Cape Town - In a second frustrating day for the Kabrins family, the father of Gabriela Kabrins Alban was not called to testify in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday. 

Howdy Kabrins was due to be called as the first state witness in the trial against Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella, which started on Monday. The family flew in from the United States last week to attend court proceedings, but instead both of the 39-year-old American marketing executive's parents have spent hours waiting outside court as they are both expected to take the stand.  

Judge Vincent Saldanha insisted that Novella go through all the crime scene photographs and documents, contained in two lever arch files, before proceeding with witness testimony. 

He wanted to make sure Novella was satisfied with admissions handed in by his defence lawyer, William Booth. Saldanha also issued a warning to journalists that the photographs of the crime scene were "extremely explicit and may upset people who see it". 

"Photos in this matter must be handled with extreme care and there must be absolute respect to the dignity of the deceased." 

Novella was clearly rattled by the fact that the photographs become public documents once handed in as evidence, and may be published. Addressing the judge, he asked what the benefit of publishing them would be.  

Saldanha said: "The benefit for the media of course is that they find it newsworthy. Documents are part of the public record. But the media must exercise extreme restraint because of the nature of the photographs."

The case was adjourned until Wednesday to give Booth time to go through the exhibit bundles with his client. "I don't want there to be any uncertainty at all so I am going through the exhibit bundles in a slow and methodical fashion." 

Novella has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder. In his plea statement, he said he had been in an abnormal mental state after having taken hallucinogenic substances. These were listed as sceletium, dronabinol (a prescription drug) and cannabis. 

"These substances had a disinhibiting effect on me, causing me to respond in an abnormal manner." Novella was arrested on July 29, 2015, after his girlfriend's body was discovered in the hotel room they were sharing at the luxurious Camps Bay Retreat Boutique Hotel. 

The hotel room was in complete disarray. Her body was found by hotel staff in the afternoon. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her face, had signs of manual strangulation as well as defensive wounds on her arms. 

Novella was not in the hotel room, but was arrested later that day. He was sent for psychiatric evaluation at Valkenberg Hospital where a panel found he had diminished responsibility from drug intoxication.  

Novella, who comes from a prominent and extremely wealthy Gautemalan family, said in documents handed into the court, that Alban's death had devastated him.  

"I have up until now, spent many hours of agony and trauma thinking about her," he said.

African News Agency