The family and friends of youth pastor Robert Cox of Place of Refuge Church in Manteca, Calif., who is currently facing murder charges stemming from a fight in the parking lot of a Las Vegas, Nevada bar last year, celebrated his release from a local jail Monday night where he had been locked up for nearly a week.
Cox was arrested by the Manteca Police Department last Tuesday and charged by the Las Vegas district attorney with the murder of 55-year-old Link Ellingson, who died from injuries he suffered during a fight with Cox on June 13, 2013 in the parking lot of a sports bar called Four Kegs Sports Pub.
"Thank you so much for all your prayers and support, we have received messages from people literally all over the world praying for Pastor Rob," announced Cox's church in a Facebook post early Tuesday morning.
"This afternoon he was released from the county jail. Our local attorney Jim Mootz did an amazing job advocating for Pastor Rob today and now tonight he is home with his family where he belongs. This is only the beginning, we need continued prayers for truth and justice in this situation," the post ended.
Cox's Las Vegas attorney, Warren Geller, told The Christian Post in an interview Monday that the youth pastor had posted his $100,000 bail on Friday but California had not been cleared to release him right away.
"He posted bail through my office on Friday for $100,000. He was just (Monday) ordered released from jail in California because they were holding him on a warrant out of the state of Nevada," said Geller.
He explained that Cox will now travel to Las Vegas on his own for a court appearance Friday.
"He's gonna travel on his own to Las Vegas for a hearing this Friday. Which will be his initial appearance at which we'll enter a not guilty plea and we'll set the case for the next stage, which is preliminary hearing.
"That's where the state has to show slight evidence a crime was committed and the defendant committed the crime. If they can do that then the case goes on to trial. If they cannot do that then the case is essentially dismissed at that point," said Geller who is confident that his client will be cleared of the murder charge.
"I think he's going to be not guilty because this is a classic case of self-defense and there are multiple defense witnesses to back up the notion that the defendant, Mr. Cox, was attacked by the deceased, Mr. Ellingson, first and that he acted in reasonable self-defense," Geller.
In an earlier report, Cox highlighted that he was surprised that he was being charged with murder after everything that he, his wife, Julie, and his church family suffered during Link Ellingson's attack.
"I was blindsided and totally shocked," said Cox.
Cox was with Julie and about 20 interns last June on a ministry trip to Las Vegas when they stopped to get dinner at a the Four Kegs Sports Pub. After they finished their meal and started a conversation in the pub's parking lot they were reportedly attacked by Link Ellingson. During the fracas, however, Cox and his team insist that Ellingson simply fell and hit his head.
Court documents, however, give a different account of the fight and suggests that Cox punched Ellingson in the head causing severe injury to which he succumbed on December 15.
Senior pastor of The Place of Refuge Church and Cox's father-in-law, Mike Dillman, maintains that Cox simply did what any rational person would have done in his position.
"My friend, when a man leaves a building, a total stranger leaves a building and walks directly into a group of Christian young people and first thing he does is cold clocks a young man next thing he does is looks at the youth pastor, he calls him 'girlfriend'. 'Girlfriend I'm gonna F you up'. You're gonna effin' die tonight. That, my friend, is aggression to the nth degree ..." said Dillman.
"Rob, who has his wife and two children and 18 young people in his charge, he has no other response than you would have made or I would have made or anybody else would have made and that is a clear case of self-defense," he continued.
Dillman also charged that the Las Vegas Police Department detective who wrote in the official police report that Cox confessed to hitting Ellingson is a liar.
"He wrote that Rob hit the man because he claimed that Rob told him that. The moment we got that police report in our office about a month after the incident, we read the police report, both my son-in-law and Julie gasped and said 'We didn't say that and we did not hit this man.' So we called the Las Vegas Police Department to say there are some untruths in your police report. We want you to correct it, their response was 'you'll have to take that up with the judge,'" said Dillman.
"We dispute not only that Rob hit the man but that Rob told the detective that he hit the man. And we claim the detective outright lied and put in the report that Rob said that. We have 20 witnesses that will dispute that and witness before God that Rob never ever threw a punch," he noted.
The Christian Post made several attempts to get a response from the LVPD about the report but was directed to an automated system.
Dillman noted that even if Cox had punched Ellingson he would have been justified in his course of action.
"Even if he did (punch someone), I say it's too bad Rob didn't find a 4 X 4 on the ground because he should have taken the man's head off. Rob is obliged to defend himself anyway he can ... if somebody is attacking your wife and your two children and a teenage youth group. Rob is a hero," said Dillman.
"They should take him to Las Vegas and pin a medal on him for heroism but they're gonna drag him into court and accuse him of murder. And that's where this country has deteriorated to. Rob is my hero. He saved my daughter. He saved my two grandchildren. He saved our youth group and he saved himself. And there's only one person to blame for this incident and that's Link Ellingson," said Dillman.