Jason “Blu” Griffith may have to take the stand in his own defense at his murder trial as early as today, after a judge said there has been no evidence so far the former Cirque du Soleil dancer acted in self-defense when he killed his ex-lover.
District Judge Kathleen Delaney ruled Tuesday that Griffith’s lawyers cannot present evidence suggesting the victim, Debora Flores Narvaez, was violent toward Griffith or others, unless evidence is first presented that Griffith acted in self-defense.
No prosecution witness, including Griffith’s former roommate Louis Colombo, who helped Griffith hide the body, have said Griffith acted in self-defense.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday after Colombo’s testimony. The jury also heard Griffith’s second recorded statement to homicide detectives moments before he was arrested for murder.
In that interview, detectives, after a weekslong investigation into Flores Narvaez’ disappearance, confronted Griffith with their knowledge that he had strangled her, dismembered her body and hid it in two cement-filled tubs in a downtown Las Vegas home.
In the video recording, Griffith denied he killed her and stuck to his story that she disappeared soon after she left his home the evening of Dec. 12, 2010.
Detectives appeared frustrated as Griffith “danced” around their questions and placed him under arrest. “This girl Debbie was making your life miserable?” one detective asked as they tried to lure Griffith into a confession.
But Griffith wouldn’t confess.
While on the stand Tuesday, Colombo testified that following Flores Narvaez’ death, Griffith told him how he killed the Fantasy dancer.
Fearing Debbie Flores Narvaez was about to call an ambulance because she was having trouble breathing, Jason “Blu” Griffith approached her from behind and choked her to death, Colombo said.
Colombo, a hulking man, often teared up while testifying during the fourth day of Griffith’s murder trial, sometimes blaming himself for leaving Griffith with Flores Narvaez when he knew the two were fighting. He said that before leaving the two Dec. 12, he witnessed Griffith grab Flores Narvaez with both hands at the base of her neck. Afterward, she was having trouble talking.
Testimony has shown Griffith was trying to end his affair with Flores Narvaez at the time of her death so he could focus on a relationship with another woman, Agnes Roux, a Zumanity dancer. Flores Narvaez was upset that Griffith didn’t want to spend time with her anymore. The two had an on-again, off-again relationship.
Prosecutors have said Griffith’s actions were done in self-preservation. He feared a second domestic violence arrest over a fight with Flores Narvaez could hurt his career as a dancer for the Cirque du Soleil show “Love” and end his relationship with Roux. Griffith and Flores Narvaez had a volatile relationship that once resulted in his arrest on a battery charge.
Colombo said that after he had arrived home the night of Dec. 12 and found Flores Narvaez dead with a plastic grocery shopping bag over her head, Griffith left for a rendezvous with Roux at a hotel.
The plastic bag was over her head because Griffith wanted to make sure she wasn’t breathing, Colombo said.
The days following Flores Narvaez’ death, the roommates tried to hide the body in a plastic tub filled with nearly 1,000 pounds of concrete. But the tub began to split and they were having trouble finding a place to hide it.
Colombo, 34, described in graphic detail how days after her death, Griffith dismembered Flores Narvaez’s legs from her torso with a saw, while Colombo held red and green glow light sticks and looked away. “The smell still haunts me to this day,” Colombo said.
Colombo and Griffith bought air fresheners and bleach to cover up the smell and clean up the mess.
Las Vegas police found her body in cement-filled tubs in a downtown home after Colombo confessed his role in hiding the body in a bid for leniency.
The deal was that as long as Colombo didn’t kill her, help plan to kill her, or do anything sexual with the body, he wouldn’t be charged in the case if he told the whole truth and testified against Griffith, he said.
Colombo was given formal immunity by prosecutors prior to his testimony. He could have faced a misdemeanor count of aiding and abetting disposing of the body.
Flores Narvaez’ mother and sister have observed the entire trial. During Colombo’s testimony, Flores Narvaez’ mother dabbed tears from her eyes with a handkerchief. Her sister, Celeste Flores Narvaez, shook her head in apparent anger as Colombo testified.
Colombo said after he helped Griffith dispose of the body he had nightmares and would see Flores Narvaez in the North Las Vegas home where he lived with Griffith.
“Every time I heard a siren I would get anxiety,” he testified. “I could feel Debbie inside the house. I would think I would see her.”
Colombo said he didn’t go to police right away because he feared both he and Griffith would be jailed.
“I feared for Jason’s freedom and safety,” Colombo said. “Still do.”
Griffith and Flores Narvaez were up-and-coming dancers in the Las Vegas performance community in 2010 when her death occurred.
At the time of his arrest, Griffith had a major role in the Cirque du Soleil show “Love” at The Mirage.
Flores Narvaez was considered an ambitious and hardworking backup dancer for “Fantasy” who was developing a special segment for the show with pop singer Sisqó.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Follow @fjmccabe on Twitter.