A California pastor who was charged with murder last Tuesday, after a man he fought with outside a Las Vegas sports bar last summer died from head injuries, maintained his innocence after he was released from jail on bail Tuesday saying he even asked his church group "to lay hands and pray" for his attacker during the fight.
Youth pastor Robert Cox of The Place of Refuge Church in Manteca, says 55-year-old Link Ellingson attacked him, his wife, their two young children and a group of church interns while they were in the parking lot of a Las Vegas sports club called Four Kegs. The group had stopped to eat at the establishment while they were on a mission trip.
Cox, in an effort to defend the group from what they describe as a freak attack from Ellingson, got into a scuffle with the hulking man who fell, hit his head on the pavement, then lost consciousness during the melee on June 13, 2013. Ellingson died six months later.
"The first thing I said to all the students was 'Let's lay hands on him and pray for him because that's our heart. We never wanted to hurt him," said Cox in an ABC News interview after he was released from the San Joaquin County Jail on Tuesday.
The beloved youth pastor, who was released on $100,000 bail, is expected to appear in a Las Vegas court Friday to answer to the murder charge. He maintains that he never hit Ellingson during the fight, while police investigators insist he did, making him responsible for the man's death.
"I know I'm innocent," said the 35-year-old youth minister.
Cox's Las Vegas lawyer, Warren Geller, says his client will enter a not guilty plea on Friday and he expects him to be cleared.
"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," said Geller.