A defiant Jason “Blu” Griffith said the jury who convicted him of murdering Fantasy dancer Debbie Flores Narvaez was not allowed to see all the case evidence and promised his mother he would fight every day to clear his name.
The ex-Cirque du Soleil dancer then asked District Judge Kathleen Delaney on Wednesday to “help him” because the judge “knew” about evidence showing Flores Narvaez’s violent tendencies. Delaney ruled that some of that evidence was inadmissible during the trial — rulings which Griffith is expected to use to appeal his second-degree murder conviction.
However, District Judge Kathleen Delaney rebuked Griffith and told him he had no one to blame but himself for his predicament and then sentenced him to 10 years to life in prison for choking to death Flores Narvaez in December 2010.
“The responsibility for this toxic and ultimately tragic relationship continuing as long as it did is entirely yours,” Delaney said. During their year-long on-again, off-again tumultuous relationship Griffith time and again had opportunities to walk away, but he always went back, the judge said. “And for no other reason that I can discern from whatever was discussed at trial… The only reason I can see was to satisfy your own narcissistic predisposition.”
Delaney’s sentence brought tears of joy to Flores Narvaez’s parents and sister.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had in four years,” sister Celeste Flores Narvaez said.
With credit for time already served, Griffith will be eligible for parole in about six years. Celeste Flores Narvaez promised she would attend every parole hearing and fight to keep her sister’s killer imprisoned.
During the hour-long sentencing hearing, Flores Narvaez’s family asked for a life prison sentence, while Griffith and his lawyers requested a 10- to 25-year prison term.
Debbie Flores Narvaez’s mother, Elsie Narvaez, wept as she told the judge her daughter was an organ donor, but it was a gift she could not give because Griffith dismembered the body and hid it to avoid arrest for weeks.
“We love and miss our daughter,” the distraught mother said. “She’s our rainbow in the sky.”
Defense attorney Abel Yanez said Griffith had a quality character, was a successful entertainer and had a spotless record until he crossed paths with Debbie Flores Narvaez.
In their relationship, it was Flores Narvaez who was violent, Yanez said. “I’ve yet to hear any evidence that Jason has been violent to Debbie or that Jason has been violent in any of his prior relationships,” Yanez said.
“She was a deeply troubled person who probably needed mental health treatment,” the lawyer said.
In a lengthy diatribe, Griffith listed all the things he said Flores Narvaez did to him or that he had done in his own defense during the relationship. He talked about her sending him “hundreds of threatening emails,” which was not disclosed to the jury, and how he called 911 for help 14 times. He said Delaney knew all these things.
Griffith called Flores Narvaez a stalker who had been violent with five other boyfriends. He also said she lied about being pregnant, though he testified he drove her to get abortions twice.
He talked about how the jury, because of Delaney’s ruling, never saw a secretly recorded video of Flores Narvaez saying that she had egged his car, slashed his tires and committed other property crimes against him.
“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,” Griffith said. “In tomorrow’s paper, the novelists who claim to be journalists won’t report the things that you really know. I asked 12 jurors to help me and give me back my freedom but they didn’t know the things that you know. I asked the police 14 times to help me and they didn’t know the things that you know. So today judge, I’m asking for a 15th time, will you help me?”
Griffith turned to his mother, who has stood by her son throughout the case, and said, “I will fight this every day until I get back to you.”
Griffith never apologized but said, “I am saddened by these events and I am saddened for everyone these events have affected.”
The sentencing closed a criminal case that shocked the Las Vegas performance community.
Griffith and Flores Narvaez were both up-and-coming dancers 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 and was an aspiring singer and entertainer.
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.
During his nine-day trial in May, Griffith testified he acted in self-defense when he wrapped his forearms around Flores Narvaez’s neck and restrained her from reaching her purse, where he believed she had a gun. He said Flores Narvaez had threatened to kill him and herself during an ongoing fight over him trying to end their relationship.
There was never any evidence that Flores Narvaez ever owned a gun. There was no gun in the purse.
Griffith’s roommate Louis Colombo testified that Griffith, believing Flores Narvaez was about to call authorities after he grabbed her by the throat, approached her from behind and choked her to death.
Although Flores Narvaez was killed Dec. 12, 2010, her body was not found until Jan. 7, 2011. Griffith and Colombo both testified that they worked to hide the body from authorities. They eventually dismembered it and hid it in two concrete-filled tubs in an empty downtown Las Vegas home. Colombo cooperated with police in a bid for leniency.
The trial had several twists as jurors listened to 14 different 911 calls Griffith made to police after domestic incidents with Flores Narvaez. She was never arrested and Griffith was arrested once for coercion, however the case was dropped.
Contact Francis McCabe at email@example.com or702-224-5512. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe