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California youth pastor cleared of murder charge in Las Vegas man's death

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California youth pastor cleared of murder charge in Las Vegas man's death

By Jacqui Heinrich. CREATED Aug 15, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The California youth pastor accused of murdering a Las Vegas man in a bar fight last year has been cleared by the District Attorney. 

The deadly fight happened at the Four Kegs Sports Pub on North Jones Boulevard near U.S. 95 in June 13, 2013, but initially things weren't so clear cut.

The pastor was only charged with murder after the victim died of his injuries months after the fight, and now the D.A.'s decision has led to both celebration and despair for the families involved.

"The District Attorney decided to drop the charges against me," Robert Cox said, sharing the news from his church in California Friday. Now, he won't have to face a grand jury in the murder of Link Ellingson.

"I didn't have any doubt, I wasn't scared," Cox said.
 
Cox was in Las Vegas with some interns on a ministry trip when police say he got into an altercation with the 6' 8" Ellingson; they say Cox threw a punch causing Ellingson to fall and hit his head, which Cox later denied. 
 
Ellingson fought for his life for 6-months, passing away in December, 2013. "He really suffered horribly," said Jayna Hardy, Ellingson's niece. "He was in a vegetative state, humiliated. It was like he knew what was going on but had no control."
 
Ellingson's death left the family hoping only for justice. Now, they say the system has failed them; they say Ellingson was a gentle giant, a kind spirit, and certainly not the aggressor Cox's lawyers presented him to be. "I think assumptions were made right off the bat because he was a pastor," Hardy said.
 
Prosecutors determined they couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Cox wasn't acting in self defense.
 
It made for an easy although not exactly quick case for Cox's lawyers, who dug up testimonies from several witnesses, mostly members of Cox's church.
 
"There's probably no more gratifying case to defend than when you have one of actual innocence," said Warren Geller, Cox's attorney.
 
Now, Cox is free to go and Ellingson's family says they are placing their faith with the ultimate judge in heaven.
 
Cox's attorneys say they will consider filing a civil suit if he experiences any problems with his reputation stemming from the case.
Jacqui Heinrich

Jacqui Heinrich

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Jacqui Heinrich is currently a general assignment reporter for Action News.