LAS VEGAS » A former Las Vegas Strip dancer standing trial on a murder charge cried openly as he demonstrated for jurors on Thursday how his ex-girlfriend died in his arms, with her hair in his face as he spoke into her ear during a physical struggle at his house in December 2010.
"I want to stop her from getting to the purse," Jason Omar Griffith said in his chance to describe how he was defending himself from a violent and possessive Deborah Flores Narvaez. .
"I think she’s reaching for the gun in her purse, but I have no way to know," Griffith testified. "I was telling her to stop. I pull her back toward me."
Griffith said no one took him seriously about Flores taunting, threatening, stalking, harassing and assaulting him in the months after they became intimate in early 2010.
Jurors heard 14 calls that Griffith made to 911 and 311 police lines in the months that followed. Griffith characterized the police response as, "A beautiful girl cannot be dangerous."
By November, Griffith said, Flores told him she was pregnant for the second time in six months. He felt hemmed in. Griffith said Flores wanted him to quit seeing another dancer he’d been dating and devote his full attention to her, an abortion and her recuperation. Medical examiners later found no evidence that Flores was pregnant at the time.
The night she died, Flores mentioned a gun, Griffith said. As the argument escalated, he grabbed her as she reached across him toward her cream-colored handbag.
Griffith showed the jury how Flores’ head wedged in the crooks of his elbows as he fell backward to the floor of his bedroom-sized home recording studio.
"She says, ‘I’m going to (expletive) kill you. I’m going to (expletive) kill you,’" Griffith said, describing how Flores — a dancer in the Luxor hotel-casino’s racy "Fantasy" revue — kicked the heels of her high black boots against his bare shins and threw her head back against the bridge of his nose as he held her tightly.
"She’s not stronger than me," Griffith said.
He said he pleaded with her to stop — that he didn’t want to fight.
"I thought she was listening to me, because she wasn’t moving anymore," he said. "She wasn’t scratching me, or gasping for air."
Moments later, he realized she wasn’t breathing at all.
Prosecutors will question Griffith on Friday about differences between what he told the jury and the denials he gave police three times in the weeks after Flores’ disappearance. The case became a media sensation during the 2010 Christmas holidays.
Griffith acknowledged lying to police. He said he withheld details of the slaying from everyone — even Louis Colombo, the friend and housemate who helped him dispose of Flores’ dismembered body in tubs of concrete.
Colombo, who received immunity from prosecution, testified earlier this week that he separated Flores and Griffith at the beginning of the fatal encounter, but left the house in Griffith’s car to return his daughter and her brother to his ex-wife’s home. When he returned, Flores was dead on the floor.
Colombo said Griffith sawed Flores’ corpse apart to entomb it in two concrete blocks that police found in a vacant house in January 2011.
Griffith said Thursday they both did it.
"Whether I had the saw in my hand or not, I didn’t stop him," the defendant said.
Defense attorneys plan to call Colombo back to the witness stand on Monday.
Griffith, 35, performed under the name "Blu" in the Cirque du Soleil show "Love," based on Beatles music. He has been in the Clark County Jail in Las Vegas since his arrest after the body was found. He faces life in state prison if he is convicted of murder.