In a chilling case that has raised questions about press freedoms in America, a prosecutor and a judge said Thursday at the accused man’s first court appearance that the veteran investigative journalist who was stabbed to death had the alleged killer’s DNA underneath his fingernails and defensive wounds.
Days after Review-Journal reporter Jeff German was discovered stabbed to death outside his home, Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, was detained on Wednesday in connection with the killing, officials announced in a news conference on Thursday, reiterating earlier reports by the newspaper that cited Clark County, Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
At a court appearance later on Thursday, prosecutor Richard Scow disclosed that German had been stabbed seven times and reportedly had Telles’ DNA beneath his fingernails. Telles was therefore denied bail.
Elana Lee Graham, a justice of the peace, described the DNA information as “very terrifying.”
According to Graham, the victim’s hand is where the DNA was allegedly found, most likely while he was struggling for his life. A report also revealed that German had many defensive wounds on his hands and arms.
In order to obtain a copy of the report, CNN has contacted the police.
The public counsel who was defending Telles stated that he would wait to respond to the prosecution’s claims until the defendant’s subsequent court appearance.
During the hearing, Telles remained silent and was not prompted to make a plea. He was chained, wearing a dark blue jumpsuit, and made his appearance in the courtroom from behind a window while gazing in front.
On Tuesday morning, he must appear in court once more.
The “awful and startling homicide,” according to the sheriff, has had a significant impact on the city.
Lombardo expressed his sympathies to the family, friends, and coworkers of German at a news conference on Thursday, saying that while all murders are awful, the assassination of a journalist is especially troubling.
We are horrified that a colleague allegedly died from writing about an elected official. As the newspaper’s executive editor, Glenn Cook, stated in a statement on Wednesday, “Journalists can’t do the critical work our communities require if they are scared a presentation of facts will lead to violent reprisal.
German was found outside of his house early on Saturday morning, despite authorities suspecting the murder took place the day before.
The suspect walked to the side of German’s residence on Friday, according to LVMPD Homicide and Sex Crimes Bureau Captain Dori Koren. German proceeded to the side of the house shortly after entering and there, according to Koren on Thursday, police suspect an altercation took place, and German was stabbed numerous times.
Police have arrested county official Robert Telles in connection with the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.
German had reported on the turmoil surrounding Telles’ oversight of the public administrator’s office. https://t.co/anreNCR20V
— PEN America (@PENamerica) September 8, 2022
The fact that Telles, who lost his reelection bid in June, was seen in a car on neighborhood security tape both before and after German was killed led to the identification of Telles as a person of interest early on in the inquiry, according to Koren. At the time of German’s passing, the car, which was registered to Telles’ wife, was also spotted at his home.
The GMC Denali that was parked in front of the Telles’ home left about 9 a.m. on the day of the murder and returned around 12 p.m. soon after the crime, which fit our timeframe, Koren said.
A straw hat and an orange shirt were seen on surveillance footage that was made available over the weekend, and during a search of Telles’ house, detectives discovered a hat that matched the suspect’s attire. Koren claimed that the hat had been cut, possibly in an effort to hide evidence.
Blood was also found by investigators on a pair of cut-up sneakers, “presumably in an effort to try to destroy evidence,” Koren said.
Authorities wanted to take Telles into custody as “safely as feasible” after learning that Telles’ DNA matched DNA discovered at the crime scene.
Despite the fact that Telles was spotted on a gurney and had “self-inflicted” wounds, Koren claimed that the operation was carried out successfully and that Telles was taken into custody securely. The wounds, he said, were not life-threatening but he did not explain them.
According to German’s relatives, he was devoted to exposing wrongdoing and was caring and loyal.
Family members released a statement in which they expressed their astonishment, sadness, and anger over his passing. “Jeff was dedicated to achieving justice for others and would value the diligence with which the neighborhood police and press tracked out his killer. We anticipate that justice will be served in this situation.
The victim’s newsroom views the arrest as both a “relief” and an “outrage.”
Those who knew German or his work have commended him as a skilled journalist who spent decades covering Las Vegas’s organized crime, dishonest government organizations, and deadly mass shooting at the 2017 Las Vegas music festival. This shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
According to the Review-Journal, he was working on an article on Telles the week before he was assassinated. Telles was the focus of headlines earlier this year that described the management of his workplace. According to German, Telles fostered a hostile work atmosphere and had an inappropriate connection with a staff member.
The Review-Journal reported that Telles disputed the allegations. Telles, who was first chosen for the position in 2018, lost his campaign for reelection in a Democratic primary in June, and his term ends in January.
On Thursday, Clark County authorities stated they are looking into their legal options regarding his employment status.
The county has suspended Mr. Telles’ access to county offices or property because “the safety of our county employees and the public is our top priority,” authorities said in the statement.
The letter claims that following the press stories, officials determined months ago that the public administrator’s office personnel would no longer report to Telles.
According to officials, “this solution will stay in effect up until the public elects a new Public Administrator in November.”
Telles expressed his dissatisfaction with German’s reporting in many online posts before German passed away, including one on the website for his campaign and one in which he labeled the accusations “fake” and said German was attempting to “drag me through the mud.”
In an effort to take legal action against the newspaper, Telles also claimed that he had obtained legal advice. However, he later realized that “suing a newspaper, like the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is nearly difficult.”
Additionally, Telles made a number of tweets about German and his reporting.
Looking forward to @JGermanRJ’s fourth dishonest smear essay. #onetrickpony In part, a tweet from June 18 stated, “I guess he’s furious that I haven’t gone into a hole and died.
Telles tweeted, “Typical bully. A few days later. After throwing 100 pounds of BS, I can’t take another pound of criticism. Article 4 is now complete. He should have better things to do, you’d think.
The newspaper’s editor, the Cook, said Telles’ arrest was “at once a huge relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal workplace” in a statement he issued on Wednesday.
“We commend Las Vegas police for their promptness, diligence, and quick recognition of the dreadful gravity of Jeff’s homicide. Now, perhaps, a brilliant man and a brave reporter may be mourned and honored by the Review-Journal, the German family, and Jeff’s numerous friends. Good luck, Jeff.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, murders of journalists in retribution for their work are much more uncommon in the United States. Since the non-profit started keeping track in 1992, eight journalists have been killed in the US; four of them were killed in a mass shooting that occurred in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland in 2018.
A suspect in the deadly stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German has been identified and detained by Las Vegas police, according to Carlos Martnez de la Serna, program director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Authorities must make sure that everyone responsible for this awful crime is found and brought to justice. They must also make it clear that anyone who targets journalists will be held accountable.
(1/3) Through the course of the investigation, LVMPD detectives were able to identify 45-year-old Robert Telles as the suspect in this case.
Click on the following link to view the press conference: https://t.co/ZvbN48vRUH
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) September 8, 2022
German’s murder served as a “reminder that daily journalists around the world put their lives on the line to uncover the truth,” according to Rebecca Aguilar, president of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Aguilar said in a statement that “as the Review-Journal reported, many praised Jeff as a courageous reporter, the personification of the First Amendment, who spoke up for society’s outcasts and had a strong sense of right and wrong.” “We should continue to be like Jeff, a person of courage, compassion, and commitment to the truth,” said Jeff’s mother.
Colleagues of the victim were helpful in the investigation
Early on, according to Koren, investigators concentrated on ruling out any possible burglary-related connections to German’s death as well as “looking at any work-related grievances or disagreements” related to his reporting.
We were aware that, in his capacity as an investigative journalist, he had authored a number of pieces that contained a variety of allegations and assertions concerning possible haters.
Lombardo claimed on Thursday that the Review-Journal was particularly helpful in informing investigators about the “cases” on which German “was working before and currently.”
Robert Telles, the public administrator for Clark County, washes his car on Tuesday in front of his Las Vegas residence. Authorities executed search warrants at Telles’ residence on Wednesday in relation to the deadly stabbing of investigative reporter Jeff German for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Lombardo referred to German’s death as “troublesome” on Thursday.
“We expect journalists to be a watchdog for the government and to be open and transparent. “And I think it’s extremely important that we put all eyes on it and approach the situation effectively, just as we did in this case, with this expediency attached with it,” he continued. “And when people take it upon themselves to generate harm associated with that profession.
According to Arthur Kane, a reporter for the Review-Journal who had worked with German, coworkers of Germans who were looking on Google Maps noticed in Telles’ driveway a maroon SUV that resembled the one in the police’ release in appearance.
Kane told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday that “the police came down and roped off the area, started searching his residence.” According to Kane, the SUV was the one that Telles’ wife had registered, and the police took it away.
Lombardo said on Thursday that the investigation is still underway and that officials are still pursuing “multiple leads” to “put to rest other allegations.”