Novella’s iPhone data probed
IF THE murder of US marketing executive Gabriela Alban Kabrins was part of a cold-blooded plot, local police will soon find out because her iPhone and that of the man accused of her murder have finally been cracked.
Investigators are piecing together every bit of information they find on the cellphones, including calls, text messages, media files, and social media and internet browsing histories.
These, it emerged in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court this week, were being analysed to try to prove that Kabrins’s boyfriend, Diego Novella, who has been charged with her murder, planned the killing.
A full analysis is expected to be made available to the defence next month.
In the interim, Novella is preparing to approach the Western Cape High Court to appeal against the Magistrate’s Court’s refusal to release him on bail, his attorney William Booth confirmed.
The application has not yet been filed.
The analysis of the iPhone data comes three months after Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital submitted a report to the court in which a panel of experts, who assessed Novella, indicated that a plea of diminished responsibility could be considered due to his prolonged drug abuse.
It revealed that Novella experienced alleged hallucinations the night that Kabrins was killed.
These included his claims that he and Kabrins used drugs together and that she looked like the antagonist in The Exorcist when he last saw her through a glass door.
Novella told the panel he recalled arguing with Alban, but couldn’t remember large chunks of that day.
However, he told the experts he thought he’d seen musician and singer David Bowie and that he noted that two cats were sitting in the rain near the vehicle.
He felt this was significant but could not explain why.
His sister Cecilia also received a series of text messages from him in the early hours of that morning, some of which seemed unusual – such as pictures of a meteorite and flowers in the hotel lobby, the report detailed.
While the panel found him fit to stand trial, their report indicated the court could consider a plea of diminished responsibility on the basis of his prolonged drug abuse.
Alban’s body was found on July 29, with faeces on her head and a curling iron beside her.
Novella was reportedly semi- naked on Camps Bay beach when he was arrested.
During his court appearance, a tattoo of the number 13 was clearly visible on his neck.
While there have been suspicions the tattoo suggested Novella had links to the feared Mara Salvatrucha 13 gang, which has El Salvador roots, this was denied by Booth.
The case returns to the Magistrate’s Court on July 20, when the State is expected to show whether Novella will be charged with premeditated murder.
fatima. schroeder@ inl. co. za