LAS VEGAS — A former Las Vegas-area elected official accused of killing a veteran investigative journalist wants to represent himself at trial, according to his attorney and court records.
A judge set a Feb. 28 hearing on a request by Damian Sheets, a defense attorney hired last month by Robert Telles, to withdraw from the case.
Sheets said Feb. 7 he was obligated by Nevada attorney rules of conduct to honor his client’s wish and ask Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt to let him withdraw from the case.
Telles’ trial on a murder charge is currently scheduled in November.
In a court filing submitted Feb. 3, Sheets cited “a breakdown in communication” between himself and Telles. He said Telles “has indicated that he would like to represent himself.”
Telles, a lawyer in Nevada, is a Democrat who served less than one term in elected office heading the county office that handles dead people’s assets.
He remains jailed without bail on a murder charge in the September 2022 stabbing death of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German.
Sheets is the third private attorney Telles hired since his arrest. Telles also was represented for a time by a pair of deputy Clark County public defenders.
Steps toward trial are on hold pending a ruling by the state Supreme Court on an appeal by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of a judge’s order blocking homicide detectives from accessing digital records on computers and a cellphone seized from German’s home.
Police say they need to review the material for possible evidence to complete the investigation in the case against Telles.
The Review-Journal argues that reviewing German’s files could improperly expose confidential information, violating First Amendment protections and Nevada state law shielding reporters from revealing contacts and sources.
The state high court has not scheduled a hearing or indicated when a decision will be made.