LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The former Clark County public administrator charged in the killing of an investigative reporter last year accused a judge of “badgering” him during a hearing where she approved his self-representation.
On Feb. 28, Clark County District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt ruled that Robert Telles, 46, could represent himself in his murder trial which is set to take place in November.
During the hearing, Leavitt raised several concerns about Telles’ decision as well as his lack of experience and knowledge of criminal law.
“It is always unwise to represent yourself in any matter let alone a first-degree murder case,” Leavitt said.
Leavitt told Telles she was concerned because he has no experience in criminal cases and he will be up against the most experienced attorneys in this trial. Telles admitted in court that he had only handled a few civil jury cases.
Leavitt said in the hearing that her thorough questioning would establish a record that Telles was “not very knowledgeable” about criminal cases.
“You really don’t know about the charge against you and what you’re coming up against,” she told Telles.
In a motion filed Thursday, Telles is asking Leavitt to recuse herself from the case.
“Defendant brings this motion to recuse Judge Leavitt because the level of bias exhibited by Judge Leavitt displays a deep-seated antagonism that would make fair judgment impossible,” Telles wrote in court documents.
Telles accompanied his filing with a transcript of the hearing and two news articles, including 8 News Now Investigator Vanessa Murphy’s report.
“Judge Leavitt’s badgering led the media to believe defendant was foolish to seek self-representation,” Telles said in court documents. “Judge Leavitt’s behavior led the media to produce stories wherein defendant’s intentions and capacity were called into question. Comments made in one news [story’s] comments section demonstrated members of the public took these points to heart.”
Prosecutors accuse Telles of targeting Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, 69, because of articles he was writing about problems in the court administrator’s office. Telles, a Democrat, lost a three-way primary in June. In online posts following the election, Telles appeared to blame German for his election loss.
Evidence in the case includes a video of a man prosecutors said is Telles walking up German’s driveway before the murder. Detectives found Telles’ DNA under German’s fingernails, police said.
In a separate filing this week, Telles claimed other jail inmates are trying to coerce him to confess as he spends most of the day alone in a cell.
A hearing on Telles’ motion was scheduled for March 30. Telles’ trial is set to begin on Nov. 6.