Transcript for Las Vegas Bar Fights Ends in Murder Charges for Calif. Pastor
We all hope that we would make the right decision if suddenly faced with an unexpected threat. But as you're about to see, the split-second response of a pastor, trying to protect his youth group, led to consequences he couldn't have possibly imagined. Everything I did that night was in self-defense. He's a California youth pastor. We need Jesus. A beloved community leader. When our story begins, facing a murder charge. But was it self-defense? All I was doing was protecting. For 35-year-old Robert cox, a brief stop in Las Vegas on a mission trip cross country has turned his life upside down. I just can't believe this is happening. Cox, along with his wife, kids and more than a dozen interns stopped at this sports bar for dinner. They were in the parking lot when a towering stranger suddenly approached the group and began to harass them. He said, hey, girlfriend, you want to F with me? We came in contact with him, I felt all of us were in danger. Cox intervened, he said, to protect them, and push Ellington away. Other witnesses back up cox's account, including Kelly lane. He insulted us before rob could push him back and unfortunately when he was pushing him back, they tripped and fell. Ellington's head hit the pavement. The police arrived on the scene and cox says it was then he found out Ellington was injured. We actually came around him and prayed for him. He eventually fell into a coma. He couldn't swallow anymore. He couldn't tell me he loved me. But initially, it seemed the authorities believed the accounts from the church group witnesses. The local D.A. Even wrote a letter at that time informing cox and his parishioners that no charges would be filed. Then, six months later, in December of last year, Ellington died. And everything changed. I have never had such heartbreak that I had that day. They're definitely pictures that I don't want to keep in my head. It was at that point authorities took a new look at the case and then, nearly a year after the understand deincident, the police showed up at cox's church with an arrest warrant for murder. Three police officers came in and said, we need to talk to you. And they arrested me and I said, what's going on? They said, you have a warrant for murder. The coroner ruled the death a homicide. Finding that, quote, blunt head trauma from assault was a significant cause in Ellington's death. And that he punched Ellington in the face. But why was he suddenly being charged? Prosecutors focus on what they allege was a discrepe sill between cox's verbal and written accounts. Cox said he punch ed Ellington. But in written testimony that followed, cox claimed he only grabbed him by the waist and that they both fell to the ground. Vindicate me, O lord, for I have walked -- When he was released on bail, cox emerged holding a bible. I could just explode right now. I want to hug my children and my wife. I just can't wait to see them. Cox pled not guilty, then, three weeks later, in a surprising move, the D.A. Just dropped the murder charge. I'm just so excited to be here. But while cox is now free, his future is still uncertain. Prosecutors put his fate in the hands of a grand jury that could still decide to indict him for murder. Now I got to trust god. It may all hinge on what evidence there is from that night. A security camera did capture much of the altercation, but according to the police report, the fight went out of view for the crucial moment, when the police believe cox hit Ellington. But if the case does ever go to trial, members of pastor cox's youth group are expected to testify in his defense. He's got a slew of eyewitnesses. It's going to be the eyewitnesses versus the prosecutor in this case. It's going to boil down to this. When did Ellington, who, by all accounts, was the initial aggressor, when did he turn into the victim in this scenario? Or did he? No matter what happens next, that one moment in a parking lot left one man dead and another man's life changed forever. I'm innocent. And I only acted to protect my family, myself and my students and never intended to hurt anybody.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.