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John L. Smith: 'Tough questions ahead for defense counsel' in Jeff German slaying

AP Photo/John Locher, File

FILE - Clark County Public Administrator Robert "Rob" Telles is escorted into court on Sept. 8, 2022, in Las Vegas. Telles is due to be formally charged Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, with “premeditated” murder in the stabbing death of a Las Vegas investigative reporter who authorities said clawed and fought for his life when he was attacked outside his home.

To those who have been following the murder of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German, the case seems like a slam dunk: Police say there’s video evidence, there’s DNA evidence, blood on a shoe and the alleged murderer's clothes have been found. 

Robert Telles, who remains Clark County’s public administrator even as he sits in jail, has been arrested and charged in the homicide that saw German stabbed seven times. 

Telles had been the subject of stinging articles by German that quoted his staff accusing him of harassment and having an inappropriate relationship with a staffer. The stories likely hurt Telles’ re-election chances, as he lost the June Democratic primary. 

State of Nevada commentator and contributor John L. Smith joined host Joe Schoenmann to talk about German, the outpouring from the press and public, and the developing criminal case.  

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide unit has one of the highest solve rates in the country, Smith said, at over 90%. He said they put in the legwork, knock on doors and review surveillance footage.

“Other things factored in,” he said, noting German’s likelihood to have enemies due to his occupation. 

“It's really that coordinated effort that homicide leaders and Sheriff [Joseph] Lombardo were talking about at the Thursday press conference, where they call it a high-profile case protocol or a major case protocol,” Smith said.

“It's hard to expect a person to act rationally while they're committing an irrational act. … That's also part of the big picture, you have a defendant now who has this entirely different public profile. He is a charitable guy, Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. Good Democrat, family man, versus what police and the prosecutor suspect is someone who planned to pull off an audacious and heinous crime.”

At that press conference, reporter Dana Gentry with Nevada Current asked Lombardo, who is running for governor against Steve Sisolak, why he wouldn’t denounce former President Donald Trump’s vitriol toward journalists. Smith said it didn’t go over well.

“That's a question that needs to be asked. Now, whether it should have been asked at that press conference, I don't know. You can split that hair if you want to. But it's my understanding, following the aftermath of that question and answer, that Dana Gentry has been trolled pretty severely on social media. … Clearly the price that reporters pay commonly,” he said.

Back in court on Tuesday, Telles’ initial appearance hearing was postponed to Sept. 20. As many know, homicide cases can take years to reach a conclusion. 

“It's a game of reasonable doubt,” Smith said. “But it's also a game of physical evidence, and you don't always find it, sometimes it's minimal. This looks more substantial to me. Tough questions ahead for defense counsel in this case, and a challenge, I think, for prosecutors to maintain what they have.”

John L. Smith, contributor, State of Nevada

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.