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Manteca pastor released on bond

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POSTED June 10, 2014 1:43 a.m.

The Manteca pastor that Las Vegas authorities believe was responsible for the death of a man outside of a popular Sin City eatery has been released from jail. 

Robert Lynn Cox, 35, had the extradition case against him dropped early Monday morning by San Joaquin County prosecutors after Nevada attorney Warren Gellar was able to prove the agreement he had worked out with the Clark County District Attorney’s office late last week. 

Cox will appear in a Las Vegas court room on Friday to answer to the charges that his assault on 55-year-old Link Ellingson during a dustup outside of the Four Kegs Sports Bar in June of last year led to the injuries that would eventually claim his life six months later. 

A warrant for felonious assault was filed by the Clark County district attorney’s office in October of 2013 following an investigation, and after Ellingson died in December and an autopsy and medical examiners report ruled the death a homicide and concluded that his injuries were a major contributing factor to his death, the charges were upgraded to murder. A warrant for that charge was called for in April of 2014 and formally issued in May. 

Gellar had agreed to post a $100,000 bond – which would correlate to a $1 million bail amount in California – to Clark County in order to get his client released from custody in California so that he could face the charges not as a ward of the state but as a free man. 

“The circumstances in this situation are much better because he’s able to meet with his attorney in person, not from within the jail, to strategize his defense and prepare for his time in court,” Gellar said. “And in a case like this that has generated a significant amount of media interest, It’s a chance to live a normal life on the interim. Obviously he has children and a family and he gets to go back to them – it’s a huge burden and a strain when somebody isn’t able to do that.

“But most of all it’s a chance to show the judge, and ultimately the jury, that he’s able and willing to stand up to these charges and face them on his own without running. I think that will show a lot of credibility.”

Gellar said that Cox will enter a plea of not guilty when he appears for his arraignment, and noted that his client is innocent of any murder charge that the district attorney’s office is levying against him. 

Cox, his wife Julie and a team of young people were in Las Vegas on a “missionary outreach trip” when they decided to go to a late-night dinner on June 13, 2013 at the Four Kegs pub. Several witnesses that weren’t with the group report seeing what happened after the confrontation took place outside, but none, according to the court filings, saw what led up to Ellingson falling to the pavement.

Associated Press reported that group members said they were in the parking lot when Ellingson approached, threatened them and assaulted them.

“He said, ‘Hey girlfriend, you want to ‘F’ with me?’” witness Kelli Lane told KTXL-TV. “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.’”

According to the witnesses, Cox grabbed the man and fell with him to the ground.

Ellingson hit his head on the pavement and went unconscious. When he died six months later at Summerlin Hospital, the coroner ruled the case a homicide.

According to a Las Vegas police report, Cox initially said he punched Ellingson in the face, but later described grabbing Ellingson’s waist and falling to the ground with him. Cox’s left ring finger was broken in the confrontation.

“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,” Cox’s wife, Julie, told the TV station.

Clark County Medical Examiner Dr. Lary Simms wrote in his autopsy report on April 17 that a significant contributing factor in the death was blunt head trauma due to assault, and ruled the case a homicide. A warrant for Cox’ arrest on murder was issued, and a criminal complaint was formally filed on May 9 stated that Cox “willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, with premedication and deliberation, and with malice aforethought, killed Link Ellingson, a human being, by punching the said Link Ellingson in the face.”

Cox is an associate pastor at The Place of Refuge Church on Button Avenue. The church’s website features a huge banner asking for solidarity among the congregation in bringing justice for what they feel is an unwarranted arrest, and calls for reference letters that will be compiled for use in court. 

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