Diego Novella was found guilty of the brutal murder of his 39-year-old American marketing executive girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Alban in 2015. Picture Cindy Waxa/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - Sentencing proceedings are expected to start in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday in the case of Guatemalan national Diego Novella who was convicted of murder in June.

Novella was found guilty of the brutal murder of his 39-year-old American marketing executive girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Alban in 2015.

Alban's body was discovered in the room she was sharing with Novella at an upmarket boutique hotel in Camps Bay on July 29, 2015. She had been strangled and had suffered blunt force trauma. 

Her face was covered with chips and faeces and a note had been left on her body with the Spanish slang word “cerote” scrawled on it, which means piece of s***. 

Novella was arrested the same day, a few hours after hotel staff found Alban’s body.

He pleaded not guilty to murder and instead argued diminished criminal capacity, claiming he had been in an abnormal mental state after having taken hallucinogenic substances. He also told the court that after an argument with Alban, he was attacked by a "demonic entity," which he later realised was her.

But, Judge Vincent Saldanha rejected his version of events and said he had the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Arguments in mitigation and aggravation of sentence are expected to get underway on Tuesday.

African News Agency/ANA