Robert Telles explains why he wants judge disqualified in new jailhouse interview

Posted at 11:21 AM, March 10, 2023

By: Jaewon Jung

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — There are more twists and turns in the case against former Clark County public administrator Robert Telles, who’s accused of murdering local journalist Jeff German.

After asking the court four times for a new attorney, and then trying to represent himself, he now wants to disqualify the judge overseeing his case.

In an interview from jail on Thursday, Telles told KTNV’s Jaewon Jung why he wants a new judge. He said he felt Judge Michelle Leavitt was embarrassing him and treating him unfairly for trying to represent himself.


Telles filed a motion on Thursday asking Leavitt to recuse herself. He said his hearing on Feb. 28 triggered his decision.

“After about 45 minutes of being questioned on whether I knew what I was doing and all these other things, it was really kind of excessive,” Telles said. “I think that’s one of the misconceptions about this situation. When folks heard from Judge Leavitt’s mouth this was final, that I would have no choice to reengage counsel, that was actually not true.”

In an interview with KTNV chief investigator Darcy Spears on Feb. 7, Telles said he wanted to represent himself to speed up his case.

Yet asking for a continuance would in fact delay a hearing on whether or not he should represent himself. But Telles said having Judge Leavitt recused wouldn’t change the timeline for his trial.

“We still have about eight months until the trial, if the trial never moves,” Telles said. “But again, like I said, having Judge Leavitt recused and intervening in the interim — eight months or so; it’s not going to harm anything.”

Telles said he remains hopeful that he might eventually hire a new attorney to represent him. Right now, he said he doesn’t have the money.

“I’ve seen these alleged reports about me supposedly having much more money than I represented. That’s not true,” Telles said. “I just found out that it takes about half a million dollars to hire an attorney for representation in proceedings like this. I personally don’t have that kind of money.”

Telles said he is being framed and there are discrepancies in the case proving the killer isn’t him.

JUNG: “So what would you say are those discrepancies?”

TELLES: “Like I said, I asked, you know, if that is true that it’s my DNA. I don’t know how it got there, because I did not kill Mr. German.”

Robert Telles attends an arraignment hearing at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Telles is charged with murder in the stabbing death of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German. (Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

German, an investigative reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, published several reports that were critical of Telles’ job performance in the months leading up to his murder. Telles was publicly critical of German on social media and his campaign website during a failed bid for re-election to the public administrator’s office.

In an arrest report, investigators wrote that surveillance video near German’s home showed Telles “lying in wait” for the reporter before attacking him.

An autopsy report states German was stabbed at least seven times. DNA from German’s fingernails was used to identify Telles as the suspect in his murder.

He hopes to have a private attorney by this summer. Until then, he said he will continue to represent himself.

In the meantime, he is being held without bail.

This story was originally published March 9 by KTNV in Las Vegas, an E.W. Scripps Company.