The assault of US marketing executive Gabriela Kabrins Alban in a Camps Bay hotel in 2015 was not brief and not without her fighting back, a forensic pathologist told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday

Dr Itumeleng Molefe conducted the post-mortem exam and analysed the injuries inflicted allegedly by Guatemalan national Diego Novella in July 2015.

He has pleaded not guilty and was set to argue diminished responsibility due to drug intoxication.

Testifying during his trial, Molefe said she took note of the fact that blood stains were found on the wall and some bedding in the couple’s room at the Camps Bay Retreat hotel.

The body was found away from the bed.

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“My opinion was that given where the body was found, there may have been different areas where there was a struggle or fight,” Molefe told prosecutor Louise Friester-Sampson.

‘Multiple points of impact’

She said the significant head injuries showed multiple areas of impact, and that they may have been caused over a prolonged period of time.

It was possible that either the head injury or strangulation took place first.

“There were multiple points of impact on the head, multiple separate bruises on the neck, which would have taken some amount of time but are also evidence that the victim put up a fight to possibly defend herself,” said Molefe.

“I am of the opinion that the assault took several minutes, although I cannot say 10, 20, 30 or 50 minutes. But it would very well have gone into one hour, two or so.”

She could not say whether there were intervals between the assaults. However, the injuries to the head and neck would have been painful and Kabrins Alban could have died as a result of either.

Judge Vincent Saldanha earlier heard that the strangulation, significant blunt force trauma, and air obstruction meant that the odds against the 39-year-old’s survival were “just too great”.

Bruises on various parts of the body

The deceased’s parents – her mother Doris Weitz, her father Howdy Kabrins, and their partners – winced, sighed and shook their heads as the pathologist detailed her injuries.

Molefe explained that the head injuries could have been caused by multiple kicks to the head or possibly banging the head against a hard surface such as the floor or wall.

Strands of her relatively thick hair, which would have served as another layer of scalp protection, were pulled off her head.

She had bruises on various parts of her body, including multiple bruises on her thigh.

As Molefe recalled the different organs she inspected, she noted evidence of low blood supply and trauma to the body.

The lungs appeared to be partially collapsed.

This was possibly because she was not able to breathe in sufficient air as a result of her mid-airway being blocked at the time of strangulation, her nose being fractured and full of blood, and a ball of unchewed food that appeared to have been forced into her mouth obstructing her airway.

The trial will resume on Thursday.