By: Darcy Spears
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the fourth time in five months, former public administrator Robert Telles is asking the court for a new lawyer in the murder trial of Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.
Telles spoke to KTNV Tuesday at the Clark County Detention Center, where he’s being held without bail.
Telles said he’s asking the court for permission to represent himself because justice delayed is justice denied.
“I don’t think it’s anything other than, unfortunately, a confluence of odd little factors that makes it look like I’m just bouncing through attorneys here,” Telles said, adding that he doesn’t want to wait much longer to stand trial for murder.
He says the only way to do that is to become his own lawyer in an effort to speed up the wheels of justice.
We asked him why he’s already been through four attorneys, which in itself delays the process.
He said his first attorney, Travis Shetler, was a friend of the family and not supposed to enter his name as counsel of record.
“The second one—the Public Defender’s office—they had conveyed to me that while they were going to provide a vigorous defense, they wouldn’t be able to get me to trial for at least two years. And for me, that was obviously a concern because I wanted my day in court sooner rather than later.”
He says the same held true for the third attorney, Ryan Helmick.
“He couldn’t help me get justice as quickly as I’d hoped.”
Telles hoped to get to trial by April or May of this year.
The fourth lawyer, Damian Sheets, who he just asked to withdraw from the case, had asked for trial to be delayed until November.
In a motion filed February 3, Sheets cites “A material disagreement as to the course and necessary scope of representation” that would make it impossible to have a proper and effective attorney client relationship.
Telles says it comes down to money and time, and he only plans to represent himself temporarily.
“My goal is to make sure that I stop spending any money now that could be used for attorneys in the future—the very near future. So, going pro se is not something I intend to do for very long.”
“You probably heard in law school that any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client,” said KTNV Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
“And you’re absolutely right,” said Telles. “I don’t disagree with the statement. And it’s not my intention to represent myself through the entirety of the proceedings. I need to try to save what money I can and potentially even try to start a fund, if possible, so that I can raise the funds to make sure that I get the legal defense that is just.”
We pointed out the mountain of physical evidence police say ties Telles to the crime—from his car, to cut up shoes and a distinctive straw hat found at his home, to Telles’ own DNA authorities found under Jeff German’s fingernails.
“Why would you continue fighting as opposed to taking a plea deal in the face of that mountain of evidence?” Spears asked.
“A lot of folks don’t know the truth of the matter,” said Telles. “I think a lot of people will be surprised. The truth is that I was framed.
“You did not murder Jeff German?” Spears asked.
“No,” Telles answered. “I did not.”
Telles admits he has no proof he was framed, but hopes his suspicions will be investigated.
“I can’t prove it but I know that there’s an organization that I was pursuing in court, and I was pursuing in conjunction with the police, even up until just shortly before Mr. German’s murder.”
“What about the surveillance video police say is you dressed as a landscaper at German’s house the day of the murder?” Spears asked.
“That is not me,” said Telles.
He claims the physical evidence police found while serving a search warrant at his home was planted.
“I don’t know when that was planted but those… Again… As far as I know… I don’t know when it might have been but those are not my items.”
This marks the first time Telles has spoken publicly in any detail about the crime to KTNV.
We asked him, why now?
“I felt that I needed to speak now because it’s horrible what’s being said about me.”
He’s referring to articles published in the Review Journal as the newspaper follows this case.
“Just the general notion that I’m this monster who’s capable of committing this crime. And the photos that were included in a lot of these articles… Frankly, I look mentally ill in some of those photos. And I know that those photos were not expressions that I was wearing.”
Spears: Are you talking about pictures of you in court?
Telles: Right. Right.
Spears: But that was you.
Telles: It was me, but what I’d say to you is, obviously, photojournalists know how to take pictures.
Whether Telles sticks with the story that he was framed as part of his defense remains to be seen.
His current lawyer’s motion to withdraw from the case is set for a hearing on February 28.
This story was originally published Feb. 7 by KTNV in Las Vegas, an E.W. Scripps Company.