The last time we heard about the trial of Guatemalan murder accused Diego Novella was back in late May, when he was found fit to stand trial for the murder of his American girlfriend Gabriela Alban back in July 2015.
You can read more about that ruling by the Cape Town High Court HERE, but we’re going to drop this in here so I can be certain you know what we’re dealing with:
Alban and Novella had been dating for two years and Alban had been visiting Novella at his home in Guatemala City‚ Guatemala‚ when the couple chose to travel to South Africa in April 2015. During their visit they planned to attend a “cleansing clinic” in Magaliesburg to treat Alban’s Lyme disease.
They booked into the Camps Bay Retreat Boutique Hotel on July 25. Four days later Alban’s body was found with faeces on her head and a curling iron beside her. It was previously reported that Novella was arrested partially naked on Camps Bay Beach later that day.
Now that’s all very strange, and the testimony of the Camps Bay Retreat Hotel barman in the Western Cape High Court yesterday only adds to the mystery.
More on Jean Nyabenda’s testimony from eNCA:
[He said] that Novella stared at him for fifteen minutes, mimicked playing a guitar, paced up and down and danced from about 1 am that morning.
“I was like maybe there is something wrong with this guy.”
…Nyabenda testified that he had been “astonished” when Novella stared at him while he sat behind the reception desk for about fifteen minutes: “I didn’t speak to him, but all the time I was asking myself why is he staring at me like this?”.
Novella had ordered a Virgin Mary and paced up and down the reception area.
Several hours later, when two other hotel staff members, Sarah and Diana, arrived for their shift, he told them Novella had not slept.
He told the court that Sarah told Novella he should get some sleep, and he replied, “‘What is sleep?’, he said no I can’t go and sleep because to me sleeping is nothing”.
Nyabenda said he couldn’t understand why he had paid for a room, but then slept in front of the reception area on the floor: “It made me ask why is he behaving like this? It is what made me think there is something wrong with this man because of his behaviour”.
“He behaved in this bizarre way over a period of some hours.”
In his plea statement, Novella says that he cannot recall killing Alban, claims that he was intoxicated on drugs, and denies he meant to murder her.
“At the time of the said incident, I was in an abnormal mental state as a result of the intake of substances. These substances had a dis-inhibiting effect on me, causing me to respond in an abnormal manner,” he said…
The defence, led by William Booth, will argue diminished capability.
The trial continues today.
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