The mother of a slain Calgary Stampeders football player shouted at her son’s killer Monday after a judge found him guilty of second-degree murder.
“For what Lugela? For what?” Renee Hill asked after 21-year-old Nelson Lugela was convicted of killing her son, Mylan Hicks.
Ms. Hill came from Detroit to hear the verdict and cried out “hallelujah” as the judge gave his decision.
“Another stone [cold] killer off the streets,” she said as the courtroom emptied.
“I wish this country had a death penalty.”
Justice Keith Yamauchi said he looked at all the evidence presented at trial and was confident Mr. Lugela gunned down Mr. Hicks, 23, outside the Marquee Beer Market in Calgary in September, 2016.
“Mr. Lugela was clearly aware of his actions,” the judge said. “He had the ability to fire, not one, but two bullets into the body of Mylan Hicks.”
The trial heard that several Stampeders, including Mr. Hicks, had been celebrating a Canadian Football League victory over Winnipeg in a game hours earlier.
A disagreement over a spilled drink in the bar intensified after closing time in the parking lot.
Witnesses testified that after some pushing and shoving, a person who appeared to be holding a handgun opened fire at Mr. Hicks as he was running for cover.
The football player was hit twice, in the abdomen and chest, and died in hospital.
Ms. Hill cried throughout the judge’s decision and at one point had to leave the courtroom.
“Those were personal hits to me,” she said. “I wailed cause I felt them in my gut. It took me back to my son.”
Members of Mr. Lugela’s family also started crying. Mr. Lugela looking down as the decision was read with no visible emotion.
Ms. Hill will get an opportunity to address her son’s killer at a sentencing hearing May 30.
“I’m angry,” she said. “If that killer ever gets free, and I hope he doesn’t, then he has the capacity and the mindset, I believe, to repeat what he did to my son.”
Court heard the shooter and two other young men jumped into an SUV and sped away after Mr. Hicks was hit. Police said they arrested three people about 45 minutes later when they returned to the scene.
Several witnesses identified Mr. Lugela as the man holding the gun. But a server at the bar testified it was another person from the group who pulled the trigger.
Crown prosecutor Gord Haight said he was happy with the verdict and said there were aggravating factors that make the case stand out.
“The senseless nature of this killing. It almost fits the dictionary definition of senseless. It amounted to a killing over what amounts to no more than a spilled drink,” he said.
“Clearly it appeared that the offender was, to use one of the player’s descriptions, looking for trouble that night. And he eventually found it. And unfortunately, Mr. Hicks paid the price.”