CALGARY — The mother of slain Calgary Stampeder Mylan Hicks says she thought her son would be safe when he left his native Detroit to play football in Canada.
Renee Hill has been at the trial of Nelson Lugela, 21, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Hicks outside the Marquee Beer Market in Calgary on Sept. 25, 2016.
Wearing a T-shirt with a picture of her son in his Michigan State football uniform on the front, Hill said outside court she never expected her son would be in danger.
“If Mylan was going to get hurt, lose his life, I’d be the first to say it was where we live. You know, it was in Detroit. I would be the first to say that but Mylan came here and I was so glad,” Hill said Tuesday. “I even told my husband I’m so glad he’s going over there, he’s out of here to safety.
“To get here and not last a year … you know what I’m saying? That just broke my heart.”
Both the Crown and defence have finished presenting evidence. Written arguments from the lawyers are expected next week with final oral arguments and a verdict in the new year.
Hill said she will return to Calgary for the verdict but, either way, she is at peace.
“Whether the judge comes back with a guilty or not guilty verdict, I’m going to be okay,” said Hill. “I will always drill it home that Mylan is better off than we are.”
Hill said she is looking forward to going home to Detroit and spending some time with a cabinet she had set up in her son’s memory.
“I have a cabinet full of Mylan’s artifacts … cleats, trophies from CFL, NFL. I’ll go back and I’ll talk to them,” she said.
“His two big pictures are on the cabinet and I salute Mylan every morning and this time I’ll spend a little more time in the living room.”
The only defence witness called in the case testified Tuesday that a taller person than Lugela pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting.
Shelley Stevenson told court she was serving drinks at the bar the night Hicks died. Several Stampeders were there celebrating a victory over Winnipeg.
Hicks, 23, was on the CFL team’s practice roster.
Stevenson said she remembers seeing Lugela and another taller man wearing a red vest in a dispute with some of the players earlier in the evening. She specifically remembers the two men because she said they were rude to her.
She said she was outside the bar at closing time when she saw a group of men pushing and shoving.
“I saw a man holding a gun and he was like fairly close to me,” she told court. “I just remember him putting it up and shooting it. I remember hearing it and seeing it shoot four times.”
Stevenson said she didn’t know who the shooter was but she recognized him as the man she saw at the bar earlier wearing a red vest.
“You saw him raise his right hand and shoot?” asked defence lawyer Alain Hepner.
“Yes. It was one after the other,” Stevenson said. “I could see him quite clearly. He pulled his gun out right there and I watched him.”
Stevenson ran inside the bar and said there was panic in the parking lot.
“The shots went off and all of a sudden it was … 100 people screaming.”
Stevenson said another black man, shorter and wearing a white shirt, was next to the shooter when it happened. A photo entered as evidence and taken by police right after Lugela’s arrest shows him wearing a white polo shirt.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Thomas Spark pointed out Stevenson told police hours after the shooting that she didn’t get a good look at the gunman.
“I was very concerned. I had a lot of anxiety. I had a lot of shock. I didn’t want to like improperly identify somebody,” she said. “It was hard for me to even communicate and talk.”