MANTECA (CBS13) – A youth pastor is preparing to face a judge after a fight in Las Vegas left a man dead.

Next week, Pastor Robert Cox will head back to Sin City for a crime he claims he never committed.

His church, the Place of Refuge Church in Manteca, is supporting him 100 percent.

“If you met rob, to meet him is to love him,” said Pastor Mike Dillman, Cox’s father-in-law.

Cox’s supporters describe him as a good, kind and passionate guy. But the youth pastor is currently sitting behind bars at the San Joaquin County Jail, charged with murder.

“He’s devastated and depressed,” Dillman said.

The charge stems from a strange encounter on a ministry trip to Las Vegas in June of last year.

Dillman claims that the pastor was acting in self-defense, trying to defend the group from an aggressive man who got in Cox’s face and called him a woman.

“[The aggressive man said]: I’m going to ‘eff” with you and you’re going to ‘effin’ die tonight,'” Dillman said.

That man died after hitting his head on concrete during the encounter. Almost a year later, Cox was arrested.

“To have a pastor walk down this sidewalk with handcuffs … it’s humiliating, it’s unnecessary, it’s senseless,” Dillman said.

Cox is set to be released from custody Monday then be arraigned in Las Vegas Friday. His church is reaching out to the community, posting flyers reading “Bring justice, support pastor Rob” and setting up a PayPal account for his legal fees.

His church has faith that justice will prevail.

“The community knows Rob. They know that he’s an asset to our community,” Dillman said.

Cox’s attorney told CBS13 tonight that his client will have a hearing before a judge in San Joaquin County court before his expected release Monday afternoon. The attorney noted that Cox has no criminal history.


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