Cape Town - A fingerprint expert has testified that the fingerprints of Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella were found on a note left on the body of his American marketing executive girlfriend.
Novella was arrested on July 29, 2015, after the body of Gabriela Kabrins Alban was discovered by hotel staff in the room they were sharing at the luxury boutique hotel, the Camps Bay Retreat.
He has pleaded not guilty. In his plea statement, Novella, who is from a prominent and wealthy family in Guatemala, claimed 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.”
His defence will argue diminished responsibility due to drug intoxication.
On Tuesday, Warrant Officer William Rushton told the Western Cape High Court that one of two ipads found in the room had a shattered screen. Two heelprints from Novella's right foot had been found on it. "It was stood on twice with the same foot."
During cross examination by defence lawyer William Booth, Rushton also told the court that the crime scene was unusual. "It was unusual to find faeces on the deceased, and sweets and chips everywhere. What distinguishes this from other crime scenes was what was found on the deceased's body."
Chips, as well as faeces, were left on Alban's face. A note was left on her chest with the word "cerote" scrawled across it in red lipliner. The word is a Spanish term meaning piece of s***.
On Monday, Rushton told the court that Novella's fingerprints had been found on the note. They had also been found on a chip packet, a wellness pamphlet and a Woolworths plastic bag.
Warrant Officer Stephen Fourie also testified on Monday that the crime scene was unlike anything he had ever seen before. “It is not the norm to find a body like that.”
Chips and sweet packets were also strewn around the room.
The 39-year-old Alban, who had been diagnosed with Lyme disease, had arrived in South Africa to join Novella who had arranged treatment for her. He had attended a seven-day cleansing programme at a Magaliesberg spiritual retreat several weeks before the murder.
He had planned to take Alban there as he believed the treatment would help cure her illness, but she died shortly before they were due to depart for the retreat.