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November 27, 2014

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Jury to deliberate Strip dancer’s fate in death, dismemberment case

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Jason Griffith, right, is charged with murder in the death of dancer Debbie Flores Narvaez.

Updated Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | 11:25 a.m.

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 »

After two weeks of hearing dramatic testimony, a jury today began deliberating the fate of a Las Vegas Strip dancer accused of strangling and dismembering his ex-girlfriend more than three years ago.

Painting Jason Griffith as manipulative, calculating and selfish, prosecutors said the defendant pitted Deborah Flores Narvaez against other women he was dating because he relished in their attention. Yet once he grew weary of Flores' growing demands for affection, Griffith strangled her because she stood in the way of another romantic relationship, Chief Deputy Clark County District Attorney Michelle Fleck said during closing statements Tuesday afternoon.

Griffith and Flores each danced in Strip productions — Griffith was a dancer in the Cirque du Soleil show "Love" at Mirage, and Flores, 31, performed in the "Fantasy" revue at Luxor. Their once-casual relationship soured after Griffith broke up with Flores because he wanted to date other women, though Griffith repeatedly went back to her for sex.

"Attention is the oxygen the defendant needs to survive," Fleck said, noting that he killed Flores on Dec. 12, 2010, because she threatened his womanizing lifestyle.

Defense attorneys, meanwhile, have maintained that Griffith was just trying to protect himself from a violent person who often picked physical fights with the defendant and taunted him when he reported her abuse to police on at least 10 occasions — one of which ended in Griffith's arrest.

Griffith didn't call officers after she died because he was afraid they wouldn't take him seriously, attorney Abel Yanez told the jury. What followed, Yanez said, was a clumsy, panicked effort to cover up the aftermath of their fight — not the cold machinations of a criminal mastermind.

"If it's not proper for a woman to hit a man because she's cheating or lying to him, why is it OK to hit a man?" Yanez said. "We're not asking for special treatment. We're asking for the same treatment as women. Jason is entitled to defend himself."

Yanez scrutinized key testimony offered by Griffith's roommate, Louis Colombo, who has been granted immunity from prosecution in the case under the condition that he speaks about how Flores died and how her body was disposed. He told jurors last week that he saw Griffith place his hands around Flores' neck the day she died; Colombo then helped Griffith dispose of the body inside tubs filled with concrete and watched as the defendant sawed off her legs.

The mutilation was a tell-tale sign that spoke to Griffith's lack of emotion, prosecutor Mark DiGiacomo told jurors.

"He has no capacity to care about a fellow human," DiGiacomo said. "Debbie Flores lacked the capacity to anger him. She was absolutely nothing to him but a vehicle to feed his sexual appetite."

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