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STOCKTON - A Manteca pastor accused of murder after an incident a year ago in Las Vegas was back in that Nevada city to appear before a judge Friday morning.

Robert Cox was in Las Vegas with a church group in June 2013 when he claims a man confronted him in a violent manner in a parking lot. Cox said he was defending himself when he fought back and the other man, Link Ellingson, fell backward and hit his head. Ellingson lapsed into a coma and died six months later.

The murder charge was filed against Cox several months later.

On Friday, Cox was told there will be a preliminary hearing in early July when witnesses testify about the incident. The hearing is expected to last two days and then a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for a trial.

Cox and his attorney are both confident their claim of self defense will be substantiated.

"Nevada is a 'stand your ground' state, giving someone the right to defend himself and others. That's the defense in this case and we'll be successful," Las Vegas defense attorney Warren Geller said.

"I'm not upset or bitter. I just want them [witnesses] to tell the truth and I'll be exonerated," Cox said.

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