- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada jury spent a full day deliberating without a verdict Wednesday in the case of a former Las Vegas Strip performer who claimed the strangulation and dismemberment of his dancer ex-girlfriend in December 2010 was self-defense.

A court spokeswoman said jurors went home for the evening and planned to resume deliberations Thursday morning in Clark County District Court.

Jason Omar Griffith, 35, doesn’t contest that he killed Deborah Flores Narvaez. He testified that he grabbed her from behind and held her head and neck in the crook of his arms because he thought she might have a gun. She didn’t.

Griffith could face a range of sentences up to life in prison without parole if he is convicted of first-degree murder. Prosecutors didn’t seek the death penalty.

Griffith’s defense attorneys asked the jury to consider a sentence of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a possible one to 10 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Griffith, a performer in a Cirque du Soleil show, choked Flores, a dancer in the racy “Fantasy” revue, during an argument about his deceit, infidelity and her claim that she was pregnant and wanted his attention while she got an abortion.

Marc DiGiacomo, chief deputy Clark County district attorney, noted that a doctor testified that Flores might have become unconscious in seconds, but it could have taken 10 minutes for her to asphyxiate.

Her dismembered and decomposed body was found almost a month later, encased in concrete in a downtown Las Vegas home. Medical examiners didn’t find evidence of a pregnancy during an autopsy.

“It was a cold and calculated murder,” DiGiacomo said.

Flores‘ disappearance sparked intense media attention during the 2010 Christmas-New Year’s holidays. Police were led to the remains by Griffith’s best friend and housemate. He received immunity from prosecution before talking.

The trial took nine days. Griffith testified that he and Flores had a volatile relationship with a movie-style “Fatal Attraction” story line. He said Flores poked, slapped, taunted, stalked and assaulted him, and he called police more than a dozen times between March and December 2010, but no one believed his accounts.

Griffith faced sharp questioning during cross-examination from DiGiacomo, who cast the defendant as a self-centered womanizer who tried to shape the truth to suit his needs.

One exchange left the 35-year-old Griffith acknowledging bluntly that he was a liar.

Defense attorneys Abel Yanez and Jeff Banks played Griffith’s 911 calls - including some in which Flores can be heard in the background shouting and cursing at Griffith. Yanez said Flores was never arrested, but that police twice listed Griffith as the suspect and arrested him once in October 2010. A coercion charge was later dropped.

Yanez asked the jury to consider whether police would have similarly treated a man if a woman made more than 10 similar complaints about stalking and violence.

DiGiacomo and prosecutor Michelle Fleck didn’t deny that Flores was volatile.

But they said Griffith brought Flores‘ anger upon himself by deceiving her about his sexual relationships and pulling away from her after she became pregnant in March or April.

Testimony showed they continued an off-and-on relationship until her death in December.

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