On Fox and Friends this morning, we heard from a California pastor who's facing a murder charge after a fight at a Las Vegas sports bar one year ago. Robert Cox, of Manteca, California, claims he was defending himself and others after being attacked by another man, and says witnesses back up his defense.


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Here's more background from FOX 40 in Sacramento:

Cox and several members of his youth group were talking in the parking lot after dinner at the Four Kegs, a Vegas sports pub.

According to Kelli Lane, who was there, Link Ellingson abruptly approached them around midnight.

“He said, ‘Hey girl friend, you want to ‘F’ with me?’ And Rob was immediately like, ‘Oh my gosh, no,’ backed up, ‘I have kids here,’ said no. And the man said, ‘Well I’m coming to ‘F’ with you.’”

That’s when the group says Ellingson started punching members of their group.

“He assaulted five of us multiple times before Rob could get his arms around him to push him back and, unfortunately, when he was pushing him back they tripped and fell,” Lane told FOX40.

In that fall, Ellingson hit his head on the concrete, immediately going into a coma.

But according to the police report, Cox punched Ellingson in the face, something investigators believe he later lied about.

“There was no punch thrown. I can understand where that was implied because his finger was broken, but from the get go we said that the police report is false and we need to get it fixed,” Julie Cox said.

Ellingson passed away in December.

While the group thought no charges would be filed, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for Cox’s arrest late May, without contacting him or his Las Vegas attorney.

“A couple of days ago the Manteca Police Department shows up here and handcuffs him and tell him he’s on a fugitive warrant out of Las Vegas, which makes it sound like he’s been running from the law,” Michael Dillman, the senior pastor at Place of Refuge, told FOX40.

This group says they can’t understand how, in less than a year, one of their leaders went from protecting them against an attacker to being accused of murder.

“It doesn’t make sense, if you hear it, if you hear the facts, if you hear the truth, why would it even go to court,” Lane said.

Cox and his wife, Julie, along with their attorney, Warren Geller, discussed the case with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Robert Cox thanked his parishioners for their prayers and for the support that he's received from across the country, reiterating that he was simply defending himself in the incident.

Prosecutors, however, claim that he acted with premeditation, deliberation and malice. Cox said that characterization of the incident is "so far from the truth."

Julie Cox said it's been "super-overwhelming," adding their faith in God is helping them get through this.

"My husband is my hero. He fought for me. He fought for our children. He fought for our group that was with us. ... He did an amazing thing. And the courage that came with that is just indescribable," she said.

The pastor at The Place of Refuge said he was scared for his life, recalling that Ellingson was going after some of his students and that his daughter could see the whole thing unfolding.

Geller said it will be the state's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was malice and forethought in Cox's actions. He pointed out that Nevada is a "stand your ground" state, so Cox "had the right to stand his ground in defense of himself and in defense of the other members of that party."

Cox is expected to enter a plea of not guilty at a hearing on Friday.

"There will be no evidence [at trial] that he intended to seek out a fight that night," said Geller.

Watch the full interview above.


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