The former public official accused of fatally stabbing Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German got the green light to represent himself at trial — but the presiding judge warned she wouldn’t allow him to “treat it as a game.”
Accused killer Robert Telles will try his luck with the legal system in the first-degree murder trial expected to start later this year.
Telles is accused of stabbing German, 69, to death outside the journalist’s home in September months after the ex-politician lost a primary to hold onto his elected seat.
Before the murder, German authored several articles that detailed the turmoil in Telles’ office.
While Telles is a lawyer, he’s never tried a criminal case before and mostly handled civil matters. His license was suspended after was arrested.
“You understand that if you choose to represent yourself and you don’t get a result that you like, you can’t say on appeal ‘I was bad at representing myself?’” Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt asked Telles in court Tuesday.
“I understand that,” Telles replied.
“You’re facing life without the possibility of parole,” the judge declared. “It is not a game. I will not allow you to treat it as a game.”
Telles was on his third hired lawyer before he was granted the chance to rep himself. A stand-by lawyer could be appointed to his case.
“I wish him the best in representing himself,” his latest lawyer Damian Sheets said after the judge’s decision.
Telles’ push to represent himself comes after the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the former Clark County public administrator had listed five rental properties for sale in Arkansas.
After buying the properties in 2019, Telles hopes to make about a $200,000 profit from their sale, the newspaper reported.
The selling price for the five Hot Springs properties is $519,000, according to the real estate website.
It’s unclear why he’s trying to offload the properties.
Telles has maintained he’s innocent, but has not publicly provided evidence to contradict the prosecutors’ case. He also didn’t explain where he was the day of the murder in an interview with the AP on Feb. 14.
He said he plans on testifying to the jury.
“And so, because I’m going to do that, I think that’s something that will come out as far as what I was doing,” Telles said. “But right now, I couldn’t answer that question.”
Prosecutors say Telles’ DNA was found underneath German’s fingernails and pieces of a straw hat the killer can be seen wearing in surveillance footage were found in Telles’ home.
He claims evidence collected was “planted.”
Shortly after Telles’ arrest, Las Vegas police alleged the murder suspect was upset to learn German was looking into further alleged misdeeds by the Democrat following the initial expose into his office that helped lead to his election loss.
German worked for Vegas newspapers for 44 years and earned a reputation as a tenacious reporter who wrote about organized crime and government corruption.
With Post wires