LAS VEGAS >> A local judge rejected a former elected official’s bid today to be freed from jail pending a preliminary hearing of evidence that he killed a veteran Las Vegas investigative journalist who wrote articles critical of him and his managerial conduct.
Ex-Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles stood in court with his shackled hands clasped tightly, appearing to plead silently for freedom while his defense attorney, Edward Kane, argued that Telles was “a danger to no one” and would show up for future court appearances.
Kane noted that Telles’ wife and mother were in the court gallery to show support for him. The women declined to comment after the hearing.
Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Karen Bennett-Haron decided she was unconvinced — at least ahead of Telles’ preliminary hearing, Oct. 26.
Telles, 45, a Democrat, lost his party primary in June and has been stripped by court order of his position heading the county office that handles assets of people who die without a will or family contacts.
He was arrested Sept. 7, several days after the Sept. 2 stabbing death of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German outside German’s home. Telles is being held without bail at the Clark County jail.
Prosecutor Christopher Hamner said Telles, 45, could face the death penalty and noted that Telles allegedly injured himself before his arrest in what police characterized as a failed suicide attempt.
Evidence against Telles is overwhelming, Hamner said, including DNA believed to be from Telles found beneath German’s fingernails; neighborhood video showing a man believed to be Telles walking near German’s home the morning of the killing; and a vehicle believed to be Telles’ in the area.
German, 69, was widely respected for his tenacity, and his colleagues said he was working on follow-up reports about Telles and the public administrator’s office when he was killed.
“The motive for this murder is abundantly clear,” Hamner told Bennett-Haron. “(Telles) went after the guy who ruined his life.”
A separate case is unfolding before a state court judge over concerns about revealing German’s confidential sources and notes.
The Review-Journal, with backing from dozens of media organizations including The Associated Press and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, argues that police, prosecutors and defense attorneys should not be able to access German’s cellphone and electronic devices.
The newspaper cites Nevada’s so-called “news shield law,” which is among the strictest in the nation, along with the federal Privacy Protection Act and First Amendment safeguards.
Clark County District Court Judge Susan Johnson last week blocked immediate review of the devices, but said she will consider letting a court-approved third party screen them for relevance.
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