A Manteca youth pastor facing the possibility of being indicted for the death of a Las Vegas man will not face criminal charges, the Clark County District Attorney's Office in Nevada announced Friday.
"I'm relieved. I'm excited," Pastor Robert Cox said. "I'm so thankful."
Cox had been accused of causing the death of Link Ellingson, 55, during a June 2013 confrontation at a sports bar in Las Vegas.
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Cox, a youth minister with the Place of Refuge Church, was with a group of interns when the scuffle occurred. They had dinner at the Four Kegs Sports Pub when Cox said Ellingson started threatening them and getting violent in the parking lot.
From the very beginning, Cox has maintained he acted in self-defense.
Ellingson fell, struck his head and suffered a severe brain injury. He died six months later and the Clark County district attorney brought a murder charge against Cox.
Now, prosecutors said it will not seek a grand jury indictment against Cox after all. They said it would be too difficult to disprove his claims of self-defense.
Ellingson's family is angry and disappointed.
"My uncle was the victim," niece Jayna Hardy said.
Hardy blames police.
"I'm definitely disappointed," she said. "Only two statements were taken when my uncle was rushed to the trauma center and there were a group of 20 people out there."
Cox's attorney said he gathered so many witness statements corroborating self-defense that prosecutors knew they couldn't make their case.
"I didn't have any doubt. I wasn't scared," Cox said. "My faith in God got me through this."
Cox learned he was cleared of the charges on the same day as his 10th wedding anniversary.