Manteca pastor’s case headed for grand jury

The Associated PressJuly 3, 2014 

— A Manteca church group’s late-night food fix at a Las Vegas pub last year devolved into a deadly fight that devastated two families of faith.

Marie Ellingson, who was married to Link Ellingson for 29 years, said she watched her once-gregarious husband suffer through brain surgeries, debilitating strokes and a coma for six months before he died of hemorrhaging just before Christmas.

Youth pastor Robert Lynn Cox, who was accused of murder in the case, was arrested at his church in Manteca, spent six days in a largely solitary county jail cell where he slept on the floor, and could be disqualified from adopting children with his wife.

A judge on Wednesday dismissed a murder charge against Cox, 35, as prosecutors revealed they are taking a different route – bringing the case before a grand jury. It’s unclear when the grand jury, whose proceedings are secret, will decide whether or not to indict Cox in the death of Ellingson, 55.

What is also unclear is what happened outside the Four Kegs pub on June 13, 2013.

Cox, his family and some interns from Place of Refuge church were on their way to Texas when they made a three-day stop in Las Vegas to do community service and ministry activities with a partner church. After hearing about Four Kegs’ famed Stromboli on the Food Network, Cox said, they stopped there for a late-night dinner.

Group members said they were in the parking lot when Ellingson approached, threatened 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 witnesses in the group, Cox grabbed Ellingson and fell with him to the ground.

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

Cox initially said he punched Ellingson in the face but later described grabbing Ellingson’s waist and falling to the ground with him, according to a Las Vegas police report.

Marie Ellingson, who wasn’t at the scene, described “a wonderful husband” who rescued animals, attended church and was the “most giving guy I’ve ever had in my life.” Some of the things he’s accused of saying, Marie Ellingson said, “are not even in his vocabulary.”

She said it’s been difficult to see the reaction toward her husband.

Cox said he was told no charges would be filed in the case and was “blindsided” when police showed up with a fugitive warrant and arrested him in early June. He denies changing his account of the confrontation. Friends wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Bring Justice” joined him in court.

Meanwhile, Marie Ellingson said members of her congregation, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, have helped her and offered a listening ear amid her grief.

“I just really wish that the truth comes out, and that things are taken care of fairly and that Link is looked at in a good light,” she said.

Merced Sun-Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service