LAS VEGAS (AP) — A local elected official is set to face a jury Tuesday on a murder charge in the stabbing death of a Las Vegas investigative journalist.
Robert Richard Telles, Clark County’s public administrator, has been in jail without bail since his Sept. 7 arrest in the Sept. 2 slaying of Las Vegas Review-Journal staff writer Jeff German.
The criminal complaint accuses Telles of “laying in wait” for German, 69, who prosecutors say was stabbed seven times. German lived alone and his body was found the next day. The Clark County Coroner ruled his death a homicide.
The 45-year-old was arrested over the Labor Day weekend after police asked for help identifying a man seen walking toward a German home wearing an orange work shirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat with a bag over his shoulder. The police The German also released images of a distinctive SUV seen near the home, driven by a man wearing an orange shirt.
A Review-Journal photographer took photos Sept. 6 of Telles washing a similar vehicle in his driveway.
Telles turned off his cellphone and waited in a vehicle outside German’s home until the attack, police said. It was characterized as a planned response to articles written by German about “turmoil and internal dissension” in the county office that manages the estates of people who die without a will or family contacts.
Telles lost his primary bid for re-election in June after stories in May aired allegations of administrative intimidation, favoritism and Telles’ relationship with subordinate staff. County lawmakers have hired a consultant to address complaints about his office’s leadership.
German was widely respected for his tenacity, and his colleagues said he was working on further reports about Tels and the Public Administrator’s Office when he died.
“The published articles … destroyed (Telles’) political career, possibly his marriage, and it’s a blow to his cause,” Chief Deputy Clark County District Attorney Richard Schoe told the judge on Sept. 8.
That judge, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Elana Lee Graham, called the police report detailing the attack “chilling” and said German was described as “fighting for his life.” She talked about defensive wounds found on German’s hands and said DNA from Telles was found under German’s fingernails.
A search warrant found items in Telles’ home, including blood-stained shoes and a straw hat that had been cut into pieces, police said. Officials said the weapon used to kill the German was not immediately found.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, a Republican running for governor in November, said investigators also obtained security video showing the attack.
The Nevada Press Association announced this Saturday that German will be inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame.
German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the rival Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter covering the courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime.
Tells grew up in El Paso, Texas and lived in Colorado before moving to Las Vegas. He worked as a heating and air conditioning technician and graduated in 2014 from law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He practiced probate and estate law before being elected public administrator in 2018, replacing his three-term predecessor.
In El Paso, Telles’ late grandfather, Richard Telles, served as city clerk, school board trustee and county commissioner, the Review-Journal reported. A great-uncle, Raymond L. Telles Jr., was the city’s first Mexican-American mayor and was appointed ambassador to Costa Rica by President John F. Kennedy and chairman of the US-Mexican Border Commission by President Lyndon B. Johnson. .
Telles’ father, Raymond R. Telles, was elected to two terms on the El Paso City Council but lost a bid for mayor. He gave up his law license and avoided prison after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy and wire fraud charges.
Court and police records show Robert Telles was arrested in Las Vegas in February 2020 after his wife called 911. He allegedly held her in a “bear-hug” position and resisted attempts by two police officers to handcuff him. At the time of his arrest, Telles was recorded on police body-worn cameras as drinking and repeatedly identifying himself as a government official.
The case was dismissed and closed in March 2021 after Telles paid a $418 fine, attended counseling and stayed out of trouble.
His term expires Dec. 31, but Clark County officials said he has been suspended and barred from county offices or property pending a review of his position as an elected official.
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