Elected official facing murder charge in Las Vegas journalist slaying
LAS VEGAS (AP) — An elected official is due to be formally charged Tuesday with “premeditated” murder in the stabbing death of a Las Vegas investigative reporter who authorities said clawed and fought for his life when he was attacked outside his home.
Robert Telles is scheduled to face a Las Vegas judge on a criminal complaint filed Monday that accuses him of “lying in wait” for Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German before the Sept. 2 attack.
German, 69, was stabbed seven times, authorities said. His body was found the next morning.
Telles, 45, the Clark County public administrator and a Democrat, was arrested Sept. 7 after police issued a plea for public help to identify a person seen on security video wearing an orange work shirt and a wide-brim straw hat toting a shoulder bag and walking toward German’s home.
Police also released images of a distinctive SUV seen on video near German’s home, driven by a person wearing an orange shirt.
A Review-Journal photographer snapped photos Sept. 6 of Telles washing the same type of vehicle in his driveway.
A prosecutor told a judge last Thursday that Telles left his own cellphone at home and waited in a vehicle outside German’s home until the attack, which was characterized as a planned response to articles that German wrote about “turmoil and internal dissension” in the county office that handles the property of people who die without a will or family contacts.
After articles appeared in May airing claims of administrative bullying, favoritism and Telles’ relationship with a subordinate staffer, Telles lost his bid for reelection in the June primary. County lawmakers also appointed a consultant to address complaints about leadership in the office.
Telles blamed “old-timers” for exaggerating his relationship with a female staffer and falsely claiming that he mistreated them.
German, a 40-year veteran of Las Vegas journalist who was widely respected for his tenacity, was working on follow-up reports about Telles and the public administrator’s office when he died, his colleagues said.
“The published articles regarding a public figure, the public administrator’s office, ruined (Telles’) political career, likely his marriage, and this was him lashing out at the cause,” Chief Deputy Clark County District Attorney Richard Scow told a judge last week.
The judge, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Elana Lee Graham, called the police report detailing the attack “chilling.” She spoke of apparent defensive wounds on German’s arms and said DNA believed to be from Telles was found under German’s fingernails.
“He was fighting for his life,” the judge said.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson called German’s death “brutal and meaningless” and the case against Telles important for the community. A decision whether to seek the death penalty will be made in the coming months, Wolfson said.
Police said a search warrant turned up items at Telles’ home, including blood-stained shoes and a straw hat that had been cut up. Authorities have not found the weapon used to kill German.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican running for governor in November, said investigators were attempting to enhance security video that he described as “distorted” but that might show the attack.
German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter covering courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime.
Telles was a lawyer who practiced probate and estate law before he was elected public administrator in 2018, replacing a three-term predecessor.
Telles’ term in office expires Dec. 31, but Clark County officials said he is suspended and has been banned from county offices or property pending a review of his position as an elected official.