Monday, May 5, 2014 | 5:50 p.m.
Jury selection began today for the trial of the man accused of killing and dismembering a Las Vegas Strip dancer more than three years ago.
Defendant Jason Griffith, 35, appeared in Clark County District Court this afternoon unshackled and wearing a dark gray suit and blue-striped tie. A grand jury has charged Griffith with one count of murder in connection with the death of 31-year-old Debbie Flores Narvaez.
The striking 5-foot-2 Puerto Rican who danced in Luxor's "Fantasy" show disappeared in December 2010 after apparently visiting Griffith, her ex-boyfriend, at his home. Her disappearance triggered a massive search, generating national media coverage and pleas from her loved ones for any information.
The search ended in early January 2011 when Griffith's roommate led detectives to a Las Vegas home, where plastic tubs hardened with concrete contained Flores Narvaez's dismembered body.
Metro Police arrested Griffith, a dancer in Cirque du Soleil's "Beatles Love" show, the next day. He has pleaded not guilty.
Defense attorney Abel Yanez told potential jurors today that this was "a case of self-defense."
Court records indicate the defense will try to portray Flores Narvaez as the aggressor in the pair's tumultuous relationship, based on her volatile dating history. During a four-year span in Maryland, five restraining orders were placed against her, and she was arrested on charges of assault, resisting arrest and harassment.
En route to the Clark County Detention Center after his arrest, Griffith allegedly told a homicide detective that what happened to Flores Narvaez was the result of a "heat of the moment thing," sparked by her attacking him, according to an arrest report.
Griffith's defense attorneys previously argued that he had invoked his right to remain silent and requested an attorney during interrogation, rendering the statement off-limits to prosecutors. A judge disagreed.
The trial is expected to begin later this week in Judge Kathleen Delaney's courtroom after the jury pool is whittled down to 14.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys each rattled off more than a dozen witnesses they might call to the stand during the trial, which is scheduled to run through May 16.