Novella gave us a life sentence without parole - victim's mom

The murder of US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban in Cape Town three years ago will forever haunt her loved ones, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Her mother Doris Weitz said she struggled most days to come to terms with how convicted killer Diego Novella "butchered" her only child.

She suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and took anti-depressants daily.

"I cry myself to sleep almost every night... it is a super effort for me to stay alive," she testified in aggravation of Novella's sentence.

Weitz said the family would never have closure and she would live with the murder for the rest of her life.

It was therefore appropriate that Novella receive the harshest sentence.

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"I hope that my lord will give him the longest possible sentence. He gave me [and her father] a life sentence without parole," she said.

"There will be no recovery from this, not just for us but for our loved ones who adored Gaby.

"All I can say is, I hope he will not be outside of prison while I am alive."

Novella, from Guatemala, was convicted in June of murdering Kabrins Alban at a Camps Bay Hotel on July 29, 2015.

Weitz cut a small figure in the dock as she explained how her life had unravelled since then.

A framed photo of her daughter was propped up in front of her.

Novella shook his head every now and then.

He also sighed deeply, later claiming it was due to "congestion". Judge Vincent Saldanha reprimanded him a few times.

"It is inappropriate for him to make gestures to a witness while the witness is testifying because it interferes with the evidence and composure of the witness," he warned.

Weitz described her daughter as sweet, friendly, loving and humorous.

She poured all her energy into her family and business ventures before contracting Lyme Disease.

Weitz was sad when her daughter's eight-year-marriage to a paediatrician ended.

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"There is nothing that Gaby wanted more than to have a baby. She tried to freeze her eggs, but it was too late," she said.

"I told her: 'If you really want a baby, you are going to have to do it the old-fashioned way'."

The court heard that Kabrins Alban apparently made a deal with Novella to have a baby in exchange for marriage, so he could get a green card to live in the United States.

"He later decided that was not a good idea and broke the pact," she said. Novella appeared to scoff.

Weitz said the murder had deprived her of the possibility of grandchildren.

The trial had taken a toll on them financially and emotionally.

She had spent around $500 000 to travel and stay in South Africa for court proceedings.

"The arrogance of Mr Novella was hurtful and infuriating. He says that he loved Gaby. His actions speak louder than words."

She said his version was "absurd, disgusting and insulting".

"No doubt, he is sorry about the situation he is in, but his remorse is self-directed, not other directed."

During cross-examination, defence lawyer William Booth said his client had indeed expressed that he loved Kabrins Alban.

He also said his client's testimony had constituted an apology to the family.

"He does in fact apologise to you... the father of the deceased and the whole family for the tragic loss of Gaby," said Booth.

The trial is expected to resume on Wednesday.

Clinical psychologist, Dr Giada del Fabbro, who testified in mitigation of sentence, is expected to be cross-examined.