Murder accused Diego Novella claims slain girlfriend assaulted him

Cape Town - Murder-accused Guatemalan Diego Novella says his slain former girlfriend, whom he is accused of killing, assaulted him twice before they travelled to South Africa, the Western Cape High Court has heard.

Novella is accused of murdering the US marketing executive, Gabriela Kabrins Alban, at a Camps Bay hotel on July 29, 2015.

"I have photos of the scratches and bite marks on my arms," Novella told the court with the aid of a Spanish interpreter.

He also said that a second altercation involved Alban chasing him in the street.

"She tried to assault me with a glass table in the dining room, but I ran outside," he explained.

Novella said that she followed him into the street in her pyjamas.

The State objected and questioned the relevance of the details provided by Novella.

His lawyer William Booth explained that he wished to show that Novella did not have a violent nature, but said he would move on from that line of questioning.

Booth asked Novella why he used the term "beserk" in reference to Alban's behaviour, given that Novella did not have access to an interpreter at his last court appearance.

He explained that, because Alban had been misdiagnosed with Addison's disease and was taking the incorrect medicine, her behaviour became erratic.

Novella also testified that his relationship with Alban was "good and loving".

The trial resumes on Tuesday.

Alban's parents Doris Weitz and Howdy Kabrins, accompanied by their spouses Linda Kabrins and Alexander Williams, attended the court proceedings.

Weitz was seen tightly clutching a framed photograph of her daughter in the public gallery.

"When the details get too graphic, I like to look at her and remember her how she was," said Weitz.

Williams was unconvinced by Novella's testimony.

"Actions speak louder than words. What forensic pathologist Itumeleng Molefe said Novella did to her speaks louder than anything he said today," he said.

Molefe had previously testified that Alban's body was found half naked, with hair extensions between her legs.

A hair straightening iron was also found close to her genitalia. Human excrement was found on her feet and legs with some faecal matter on her face, IOL previously reported.

A white T-shirt and a paper bearing the word "Cerote" were placed on her body.