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New trial date set for suspect in reporter’s slaying

Updated March 26, 2024 - 7:53 pm

A Las Vegas judge has set a new tentative trial date for former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who is accused of killing Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.

The new trial is scheduled to start on Aug. 5, District Judge Michelle Leavitt said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

“I think it’s important to have a trial date that we’re working towards,” the judge said.

Prosecutors have accused Telles of fatally stabbing German, 69, in September 2022 over articles the reporter had written about Telles’ conduct as an elected official. During a court hearing earlier this month, Telles’ murder trial was postponed after prosecutors argued they want access to information on German’s personal devices, which were seized by police after he was killed.

The Review-Journal entered a lengthy legal fight to prevent officials from searching German’s devices, which culminated in the Nevada Supreme Court ruling in October that the state’s shield law, which protects journalists from forcibly revealing sources, continues to apply to German’s devices after his death.

Employees for the Review-Journal are currently reviewing the devices.

Joel Tasca, an attorney representing the Review-Journal, said it was unclear if the search will be finished by the August trial date.

Telles, acting against the advice of his attorney, had previously pushed for the trial to move forward this month. Defense attorney Robert Draskovich said Tuesday that Telles still wants the trial to move forward as quickly as possible.

“It’s our position that if there was any exculpatory evidence, it would have been discovered and hopefully turned over,” Draskovich told reporters following Tuesday’s hearing. “Mr. Telles is adamant that we proceed to trial.”

During a March 12 court hearing, Draskovich said his client was not opposing prosecutors’ attempt to delay the trial, because Telles wanted to receive information from the Metropolitan Police Department about a bribery investigation involving Telles that predated German’s killing.

The Review-Journal has previously reported that police were investigating allegations that Telles orchestrated a house-flipping scheme to profit from property sales handled by the public administrator’s office.

Redacted copies of search warrants released by the Metro show that investigators seized multiple phones and laptops as part of the investigation.

Draskovich told the judge on Tuesday that evidence shows a Metro detective involved in the bribery investigation reviewed German’s phone in the days after he was killed.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Pamela Weckerly confirmed the detective did a “cursory” review of the phone, but said there could still be more information investigators have not seen.

“It was at the very, very beginning of the case, and we have no idea what else is in the phone,” Weckerly said.

While searching German’s phone, the detective involved in the bribery investigation reviewed the device for “timeline, chats, photos, call logs, voicemails, etc.” starting July 1, 2022, until shortly after German was killed on Sept. 2, 2022, according to a copy of an internal police email reviewed by the Review-Journal.

Draskovich said Tuesday that Telles is not agreeing to a search protocol proposed by the Review-Journal to have more people search through the devices, in order to speed up the process. Leavitt told the Review-Journal attorneys that she would nevertheless sign an order to allow more people to search the devices, which include multiple laptops.

“He feels like the protocol is too lengthy,” Draskovich said after Tuesday’s hearing. “It’s my opinion as his defense attorney that obviously if there’s any other threats, any other suspects in this case, we obviously want that information.”

Draskovich said that German received at least two death threats that were stored on his phone before his death.

Telles has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, and has alleged he was framed for German’s murder. Prosecutors have pointed to “overwhelming” evidence against Telles, including his DNA that was discovered underneath German’s fingernails.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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