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November 24, 2014

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Former Strip performer gets life in ‘Fantasy’ dancer’s murder, dismemberment

Image

Steve Marcus

Celeste Flores Narvaez, older sister of Deborah Flores Narvaez, hugs her mother after Jason Griffith was sentenced to life in prison during sentencing at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The former Las Vegas Strip performer was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2010 death and dismemberment of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Flores Narvaez, a dancer in Luxor’s topless “Fantasy” revue.

Updated Wednesday, July 23, 2014 | 6:30 p.m.

Jason Griffith Sentenced To Life In Prison

Jason Griffith arrives for sentencing at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The former Las Vegas Strip performer was found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2010 death and dismemberment of his ex-girlfriend Deborah Flores Narvaez, a dancer in Luxor's topless Launch slideshow »

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 »

Luxor Dancer Murder Case

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

Sporting a freshly shaved mohawk with his jail-issued jumpsuit, Jason Griffith stood up and braced for the worst as a Clark County District Court judge prepared to mete out his punishment for the 2010 slaying of his showgirl ex-girlfriend, a case that rattled the Las Vegas entertainment industry and captivated a national audience for years.

He appeared frustrated as he told Judge Kathleen Delaney that if the 12 jurors who tried him in May had gotten a clearer picture of his relationship with Debbie Flores Narvaez, they would not have found him guilty of second-degree murder in her death. Delaney, Griffith said, should not have omitted certain pieces of evidence during the trial — including a video in which Flores is seen screaming and taunting Griffith.

"If that jury knew the things that you know, this verdict would be very different," said Griffith, maintaining that he acted in self-defense the day Flores died. "We all know that if I were a woman and I was accosted by a man like this, I wouldn't be standing before you here today."

Delaney had none of it. The judge came down hard, punishing Griffith with 10 years to life in prison, the maximum sentence possible for the crime.

It was Griffith's fault the couple's stormy relationship continued as long as it did, the judge told the inmate before her.

"You knew who Debbie was, and you knew who she hoped you would be in her life. You also knew you were never going to be that person and yet every time she moved on for any length of time, you were the one who brought her back," Delaney said. "You were the one who reached out to her. You were the one who pursued her. And for no other reason that I could discern from whatever was discussed at trial, the only reason I can see was to satisfy your own narcissistic predisposition."

In tears, Flores' mother and sister — who also addressed Delaney at sentencing — smiled as she spoke.

Griffith's attorney, Abel Yanez, had argued for a prison term of 10 to 25 years for his client.

"No one deserves to die. No one at this defense table is saying Debbie deserved to die," Yanez said. But that doesn't mean Griffith couldn't defend himself from his violent, clingy ex-girlfriend, the lawyer said.

Yanez said the judge's decision didn't surprise his client — both men expected a harsh punishment because the facts surrounding Flores' death were upsetting — at trial, jurors saw images of Flores' dismembered corpse, which had been placed inside tubs of cement. But other factors in the case warranted a lesser sentence, Yanez said, noting that Griffith had no criminal history before meeting the victim.

Griffith and his mother say the case was skewed and sensationalized by news media.

Griffith, who is eligible for parole in about six years after having already served nearly four years at the Clark County Detention Center, plans to file an appeal to argue that his trial was unfair because Delaney omitted evidence of alleged abuse from Flores.

"Through it all, he's not going to stop fighting," Yanez said.

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