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Ex-Las Vegas Politician Won't Face Death Penalty If Convicted Of Journalist's Murder

Former Clark County Administrator Robert Telles has pleaded not guilty to murdering investigative reporter Jeff German.

By Megan Carpentier
Killer Motive: What Drives People To Kill?

The former Las Vegas politician who is charged with murdering a prominent investigative journalist who had exposed problems in his office won't face the death penalty if convicted.

Robert Telles, who had been the elected Clark County Administrator, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to the charge of murder with use of a deadly weapon on a victim 60 years or older on which he was indicted last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Telles, 45, was removed from his elected office in October after his September arrest for the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, 69. German was found suffering from multiple stab wounds outside his home on Sept. 2.

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During the hearing, Clark County Chief Deputy District Attorney Pamela Weckerly told the judge that their office did not plan to send Telles' case to the state's death penalty review board, which oversees the decision to seek capital punishment in any case, according to the paper. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the Review-Journal that the case was not eligible for the death penalty because there was no "aggravating circumstance" as defined by Nevada law.

Robert Telles in court

There are only 15 such aggravating factors in the statute, which are mostly limited to murdering someone in the commission of another crime. The fact that German was over 60 or that prosecutors have accused Telles of "lying in wait" for German are not considered aggravating factors making Telles eligible for the death penalty under Nevada law.

Telles made the plea accompanied by private counsel, according to the Associated Press, though he'd initially been assigned two public defenders. The change came after the Review-Journal reported last week that Telles and his wife own five rental properties in Arkansas as well as a $600,000 home in Las Vegas. 

Telles' law license was suspended last week, the paper reported, over allegations that he withdrew more than $195,000 from his client trust account at the beginning of 2022 when he ended his private practice that focused on probate and estate planning.

The Review-Journal reported that Telles' former deputy and political rival, Assistant Public Administrator Rita Reid, as well as five of his former colleagues from the Public Administrator's office, attended Telles' plea hearing wearing buttons with Jeff German's face. German's reporting on Telles and the office — which included allegations of bullying and hostility toward employees as well as an inappropriate workplace relationship — were allegedly the motivation for the murder.

“We just really want to be here for Jeff,” Reid told the paper. “He was there for us at a very difficult time, when everyone really couldn’t believe how bad it might be in the office.”

Telles is set to appear in court again on Nov. 3.

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