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Elected official facing murder charge was "lying in wait" for Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, complaint says

Reporter's murder exposes threats to media
Las Vegas reporter's murder exposes threats to media 05:19

Arraignment was postponed Tuesday for an elected official accused of killing a Las Vegas investigative reporter who authorities say clawed and fought for his life when he was attacked outside his home. The postponement came a day after  prosecutors accused Robert Telles of "lying in wait" for Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.

Telles stood in shackles in a Las Vegas courtroom as his lawyer requested the delay. Prosecutors did not oppose the request. The judge reset the hearing for Sept. 20.

Outside of court, defense attorney Travis Shetler said he wanted more time to prepare.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson noted that Telles would remain jailed without bail.

Journalist Killed
Clark County Public Administrator Robert "Rob" Telles, right, appears in court with attorney Travis E. Shetler, left, Sept. 8, 2022, in Las Vegas. Telles was arrested Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German. John Locher / AP

Telles, whose forearms were bandaged beneath his handcuffs, had been scheduled to be formally charged with murder in the Sept. 2 killing of German. Telles did not speak during the brief court appearance.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday, prosecutors accuse Telles of "lying in wait" for German, 69, who was stabbed seven times. 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. It 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 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." Investigators confirmed Telles' DNA matched DNA found under German's fingernails, CBS affiliate KLAS-TV reported.

"He was fighting for his life," Graham said.

Wolfson has called German's death "brutal and meaningless" and said a decision whether to seek the death penalty will be made in the coming months.

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 said they did not immediately find 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.

Jeff German, host of Mobbed Up, with Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin) on the Strip in Las Vegas Wednesday, June 2, 2021. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Ron Futrell of KLAS-TV knew German well.

"He was fearless," Futrell said. "That's one thing he was, and you can't do some of the stories he did without being fearless and that's what he was in that sense. You can see it in his writing."

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.

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