LAS VEGAS — With a crucial question yet to be decided by the state Supreme Court, a Nevada judge postponed a murder trial for a former Clark County elected official accused of killing a veteran investigative journalist who wrote articles critical of him and his office.
Robert “Rob” Telles’ new trial date was reset for Nov. 6 after the former Democratic county administrator’s new defense attorney, Damian Sheets, told a judge in Las Vegas on Feb. 1 he was still collecting information about the case and would not be prepared for trial in April.
“This includes certain pieces of evidence which are currently being disputed by various agencies,” Sheets said in an email to The Associated Press following a trial-setting hearing before Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt.
Leavitt ruled Jan. 25 that it will be up to the Nevada Supreme Court to decide whether a thorough review by Las Vegas homicide detectives of slain Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German’s cellphone and computers would improperly expose confidential notes and sources.
A different state court judge issued an order Oct. 19 blocking police, prosecutors and Telles’ attorneys from combing the records for additional evidence that Telles fatally stabbed German in response to articles German wrote.
A grand jury indicted Telles days later on a charge of murder with a weapon of a victim 60 years or older.
The state high court has not scheduled a hearing or indicated when a decision will be made.
The newspaper argues that names and unpublished material that might be on German’s devices are protected from disclosure by the First Amendment and Nevada state law.
Attorneys for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department say detectives can’t complete the investigation of German’s killing last Sept. 2 without reviewing German’s records.
Telles, 46, remains jailed in Las Vegas without bail. At trial, he could face up to life in prison without parole, after Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided that no qualifying aggravating factors made Telles’ trial a capital case.
Telles served one term heading the county office that handles assets of people who die without wills or family contacts. He lost the Democratic party primary in June, weeks after German wrote about “turmoil and internal dissension” in the office Telles headed.
German, 69, spent more than 40 years as a reporter covering courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime in Las Vegas. He joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the rival Las Vegas Sun.
Prosecutors say the evidence collected to date against Telles is overwhelming, including DNA believed to be from Telles found beneath German’s fingernails.