Robert Telles: Killed Las Vegas Journalist Had His Alleged Killer’s DNA Under His Fingernails, Prosecutor Says

Later Thursday, Telles was denied bail during a court appearance where prosecutor Richard Scow revealed that German had been stabbed seven times and allegedly had Telles’ DNA under his fingernails.

“The DNA would have been recovered in the victim’s hand, presumably during the time he was fighting for his life,” Graham said, adding that a report showed the German had several defensive wounds on his hands and arms.

CNN has contacted police for a copy of the report.

Telles was represented by a public defender who said he was deferring his response to the prosecution’s charges until the defendant’s next hearing.

Telles did not speak during the hearing and was not asked to make a plea. Wearing a dark blue jumpsuit, he appeared in court behind a window, looking straight ahead in handcuffs.

He is due to appear in court again on Tuesday morning.

The sheriff previously said the “terrible and shocking murder” has deeply affected the city.

“Any murder is tragic, but killing a journalist is particularly difficult,” Lombardo said at a news conference on Thursday, extending his condolences to the German family, friends and colleagues of the Review-Journal.

“We are… outraged that a colleague appears to have been murdered for reporting on an elected official. Journalists cannot do the important work our communities need if they fear that a presentation of facts could lead to violent retaliation” , the newspaper said. editor-in-chief, Glenn Cook, said in a statement Wednesday.

German was discovered outside his home on Saturday morning, although police believe the murder took place a day earlier.

According to Captain Dori Koren of the LVMPD Homicide and Sexual Crimes Bureau, the suspect approached German’s house on Friday and went to the side of the house. The German came out shortly afterwards and went to the side of the house where, Koren said on Thursday, investigators believe an altercation took place and the German was stabbed multiple times.

Telles, who lost re-election in June, was identified as a person of interest early in the investigation when authorities discovered surveillance footage of the neighborhood that captured a vehicle seen at Telles’ home before and after the German’s murder. Koren said. The vehicle, registered to Telles’ wife, was also seen at German’s home at the time of his death.

“Eventually, we developed video evidence to show that the vehicle, the GMC Denali parked in front of Telles’ house, left around 9am on the day of the murder and returned around 12 noon just after the murder, which matched our timeline,” Koren says.

Surveillance footage released over the weekend showed a suspect wearing a straw hat and orange shirt, and investigators found a matching hat during a search of Telles’ home. The hat was cut off, Koren said, as if trying to hide evidence.

Investigators also found blood on a pair of shoes that had been cut, “probably in a way to destroy evidence,” Koren said.

When authorities determined that Telles’ DNA matched DNA found at the crime scene, their goal was to take Telles into custody as “safely as possible.”

“We were able to successfully perform that operation yesterday and Telles has been safely taken into custody,” Koren said, although he acknowledged that Telles had been seen on a stretcher after sustaining “self-inflicted” injuries. He declined to describe the wounds, but said they were not life-threatening.

German’s family said he was loyal, loving and committed to exposing wrongdoing.

“We are shocked, saddened and angry at his death,” family members said in a statement. “Jeff was determined to seek justice for others and would appreciate the hard work of the local police and journalists in pursuing his killer. We look forward to seeing justice in this case.”

Arrest is both a ‘relief’ and an ‘outrage’ for the victim’s newsroom

German has been praised by those who knew him or his work as an accomplished reporter who spent decades working in Las Vegas, covering everything from organized crime to corrupt government agencies to the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival – the deadliest in modern American history.
According to the Review-Journal, he was working on a story about Telles the week he was killed. Earlier this year, Telles was the subject of articles detailing his oversight of his office, and German reported that Telles had created a hostile work environment and had an inappropriate relationship with a staffer.

Telles denied the reports, according to the Review-Journal. Telles was first elected to office in 2018, but lost his bid for re-election in a Democratic primary in June and his term expires in January.

Clark County officials said Thursday they are reviewing legal options for his job status.

“The safety of our county employees and the public is our top priority, and the county has suspended Mr. Telles’ access to county offices or properties,” officials added in a statement.

According to the statement, in the wake of newspaper reports, officials decided several months ago that public administration staff would stop reporting to Telles.

“This solution will be in effect until the public elects a new public administrator in November,” officials said.

Before German’s death, Telles published several online posts describing his difficulties with the journalist’s reporting, including on his campaign’s website and in a letter to German, calling the allegations “false” and insisting that the reporter tried to “get me through the mud.”

Telles also stated that he sought legal advice in an effort to take legal action against the newspaper, but ultimately concluded that “suing a newspaper, such as the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is nearly impossible.”

Telles also posted several tweets about German and its coverage.

Las Vegas Police seek the public's help after veteran reporter is found dead outside his home
“Looking forward to smear #4 lying by @JGermanRJ. #onetrickpony I think he’s mad I didn’t crawl into a hole and die,” read a tweet from June 18thpartially.
A few days later, Telles tweeted“Typical bully. Can’t take a pound of criticism (sic) after hurling 100lbs of BS. Now on to article #4. You’d think he’s got better things to do.”

In his own statement Wednesday, Cook, the paper’s editor, said Telles’s arrest was “at once a huge relief and an outrage for the editors of the Review-Journal.”

“We thank the Las Vegas Police Department for their urgency and hard work and for immediately recognizing the horrific significance of Jeff’s murder. Now, hopefully, the Review-Journal, the German family and Jeff’s many friends can begin their grieving process.” and honoring a great man and a brave reporter. Thank God, Jeff.”

Murders of journalists are rare in the United States, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and murders of journalists in retaliation for their work even more so. Eight journalists have been murdered in the US since 1992, when the nonprofit began tracking, including four in a 2018 mass shooting in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland, the report said.
“Las Vegas police have acted swiftly in identifying and arresting a suspect in the fatal stabbing at Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German,” Carlos Martínez de la Serna, program director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said Thursday. in a statement. “Authorities must ensure that all those involved in this horrific crime are identified and held accountable, and must make it clear that those who target journalists are brought to justice.”

Rebecca Aguilar, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, said German’s murder was “a reminder that everyday journalists around the world risk their lives to find out the truth”.

“As the Review-Journal reported, many described Jeff as a fearless reporter, the embodiment of the First Amendment, who stood up for society’s underdogs and had a strong sense of right and wrong,” Aguilar said in a statement. “We must honor Jeff by remaining like him, a person of courage, compassion and commitment to the truth.”

Victim’s colleagues were instrumental in the investigation

Initially, authorities focused on making sure German’s death was not related to a break-in, in addition to “looking into work-related grievances or conflicts” regarding his reporting, Koren said.

“We knew that as an investigative journalist he had written several articles and there were several allegations and statements about potential people who would be upset about it,” he said.

The Review-Journal was instrumental in providing information that helped investigators, Lombardo said Thursday, particularly in outlining what “businesses” German “worked previously and currently.”

Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles washes his car in front of his Las Vegas home on Tuesday.  Authorities on Wednesday issued search warrants at Telles' home in connection with the fatal stabbing of investigative reporter Jeff German in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The German’s death was “difficult,” Lombardo said on Thursday.

“We expect journalism to be open and transparent and a watchdog for the government. And when people take it upon themselves to cause harm related to that profession, I think it’s very important that we put all our eyes on it and handle the matter the right way,” he said. , “as we did in this case, with the associated opportunity.”

Colleagues of Germans who went through Google Maps saw in the driveway of Telles a maroon SUV that looked similar to the photo released by authorities, said Arthur Kane, a reporter for the Review-Journal who had worked with German.

“Police came down, cordoned off the area and started searching his house,” Kane told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Wednesday. The SUV was the one registered to Telles’ wife, Kane said, and the vehicle was taken by investigators.

In the meantime, the investigation continues, Lombardo said on Thursday, and authorities are still following “various leads” to “restrain other allegations”.

Ashley Killough, Steve Almasy, Paradise Afshar, Carroll Alvarado, Amir Vera, Jamiel Lynch, Nick Watt, Elizabeth Joseph, Hannah Sarisohn and Satyam Kaswala of CNN contributed to this report.