- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada jury was asked Tuesday to reject a claim of self-defense and find a former Las Vegas Strip performer guilty of the state’s most serious murder charge for killing his dancer ex-girlfriend and dismembering her body almost 3½ years ago.

Jason Omar Griffith choked Deborah Flores Narvaez to death during an argument at Griffith’s home because Flores stood in the way of Griffith’s desire to be with another woman he loved, Agnes Roux, said prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo.

He urged the jury to remember testimony by a medical expert who said it might have taken only several seconds for the 31-year-old Flores to become unconscious, but many minutes to die.

“You’re not allowed to hold onto a woman’s neck for 10 minutes and not have it be first-degree murder,” DiGiacomo said.

Defense attorney Abel Yanez asked the same jury to consider a lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter - a spontaneous act in a moment of passion that wasn’t deliberate or malicious.

Sure, Griffith lied about being faithful to Flores in the months after they became intimate in early 2010, Yanez said. But lying about your sex life doesn’t make someone a murderer.

And while prosecutors showed gruesome photos of Flores’ legs found encased in concrete in one plastic tub and her torso found in another, Griffith wasn’t on trial for any crimes that occurred after Flores’ death, Yanez said.

Instead, evidence showed that every time Griffith tried to end his relationship with Flores, she stalked, threatened, harassed and assaulted him, Yanez said, and Griffith believed he was in mortal danger when he killed Flores as she reached for a purse that might have had a gun or a knife in it - even though it didn’t.

“This case is about who was the likely aggressor on Dec. 12, 2010,” Yanez said. “Did Jason reasonably fear that he was going to either be killed or receive serious bodily injury? And, finally, why Jason didn’t call the police if he was defending himself.”

DiGiacomo said Griffith was self-centered and calculating enough even moments after Flores died to realize that arrest would cost him his lifestyle, his job as a performer in the Cirque du Soleil show “Love” at The Mirage and any chance he had with Roux.

Roux, a performer in the Cirque show “Zumanity,” testified that she broke up with Griffith after learning that he was sleeping with other women, but told him in early December that he could have another chance if he stopped seeing Flores.

“He’s got a problem,” DiGiacomo said. “He wants Agnes, but he has Debbie. And he knows one thing is true: Debbie is never going away.”

The jury adjourned for the evening after closing arguments ended about 6 p.m., and will begin deliberating Griffith’s fate on Wednesday.

Griffith, 35, doesn’t face the death penalty, but could be sentenced to up to life in prison if he is convicted of the most serious charge.

Flores was a dancer in the racy “Fantasy” revue at the Luxor. When she learned that she wasn’t the only woman in Griffith’s life, prosecutor Michelle Fleck said, Flores was devastated and demanded attention.

The nine-day trial in Clark County District Court featured lurid testimony about violence between Griffith and Flores, his ongoing relationships with several women while Flores sought exclusivity, and Flores’ dismemberment.

Her remains were found after Griffith’s best friend and housemate, Louis Colombo, told police where to find them in concrete in a vacant home in downtown Las Vegas.

Griffith, who testified in his defense, characterized Flores as clingy and possessive.

She claimed in the weeks before she died that she was pregnant for the second in about six months, he said, and was going to have another abortion.

Griffith testified he accompanied Flores to a clinic for a similar procedure in May 2010. Medical examiners found no evidence during Flores’ autopsy that she was pregnant in December.

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