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October 30, 2014

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Accused dancer continues testimony at murder trial: ‘She attacked me, sir’

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Steve Marcus

Jason Omar Griffith appears in court during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Griffith is accused of murdering Luxor “Fantasy” dancer Deborah Flores Narvaez in December 2010.

Griffith Takes Stand in Murder Trial

Defendant Jason Omar Griffith speaks to the jury as he testifies in his own defense during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Griffith is accused of murdering Luxor Launch slideshow »

A former Strip performer who says he killed his ex-girlfriend in self-defense tried to fend off a prosecutor's suggestions Monday that in reality he killed a pesky former girlfriend whose pregnancy claim endangered a new romance.

"Debbie was the obstacle," prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said as he questioned Jason Omar Griffith about his motivation in the asphyxiation death of Deborah Flores Narvaez during a December 2010 argument at Griffith’s home.

Griffith, 35, previously told the jury he fell back to the floor and held Flores tightly around the upper chest and neck until she stopped breathing. Griffith said he thought Flores was reaching for a gun in her purse. No gun was ever found, and medical examiners found no evidence during Flores' autopsy that she was pregnant at the time.

Griffith denied under questioning Monday that he was angry during the argument.

"You weren't enraged?" DiGiacomo asked. "Was it an accident?"

"In fear, sir," Griffith replied. He said he and Flores were close together in his home music studio when she hit him in the face as she reached past him toward her purse.

"She attacked me, sir," Griffith said. "I attempted to restrain her so she wouldn't hurt me or herself. The only thing I did was restrain her, sir."

Griffith denied that Flores' claim of pregnancy led to the fight. Griffith had accompanied Flores to an abortion clinic in May 2010, but Griffith also maintained he was never sure Flores really was pregnant at that time. Afterward, the two stopped seeing each other for several weeks.

Jurors have been told that after the couple got back together a few weeks later, Flores slashed three tires on Griffith's car in a fit of anger. But they remained intimate in the fall, while Griffith spent time with the new girlfriend, Agnes Roux, and continued sleeping with several other women including Flores.

DiGiacomo ended two days of cross-examination questioning Griffith about inconsistencies on the whereabouts of Flores' cellphone after her death.

Griffith insisted he didn't take Flores’ phone. GPS put the phone at or near the New York-New York resort, DiGiacomo said, where Griffith, who danced at the time with the Cirque du Soleil show, "Love," went to meet Roux, a dancer in the Cirque show "Zumanity."

Prosecutors told jurors that after entombing Flores' dismembered body in concrete in his home, Griffith spent several nights with Roux at a boutique hotel just off the Strip.

Griffith, now 35, is standing trial on a murder charge that could get him life in prison.

Flores' disappearance drew intense media attention in late 2010 after she failed to show for work as a dancer in the racy "Fantasy" revue at the Luxor hotel-casino.

Her remains were found weeks later in two tubs of concrete in a vacant home in downtown Las Vegas.

Griffith has testified that he and Flores had a violent relationship and that she stalked, threatened, harassed and assaulted him when he tried to limit their time together.

Griffith left the jury with the impression Friday that his roommate, Louis Colombo, dismembered Flores' body. Her remains were recovered Jan. 8, 2011, after Colombo received immunity from prosecution and led police to them.

Colombo testified last week that Griffith sawed off Flores' legs, while Griffith testified Colombo did.

Colombo was due to return to the witness stand before Griffith's defense attorneys rest their case, perhaps on Tuesday.

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