Calgary Stampeders get emotional testifying at trial for man accused of murdering teammate

Calgary Stampeders player Mylan Hicks was running away from a confrontation when the killer walked toward him shooting until Hicks collapsed face down on the concrete outside a nightclub, court heard Monday.

Mylan Hicks died after being shot outside Marquee Beer Market in 2016

Nelson Tony Lugela, 21, left, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Mylan Hicks, 23. (Crime Stoppers/Calgary Stampeders)

Calgary Stampeders player Mylan Hicks was running away from a confrontation when a man walked toward him shooting until Hicks collapsed face down on the concrete outside a nightclub, court heard Monday.

"I see Mylan running toward my direction," said Hicks' teammate Derek Dennis, who was the first person to testify at Nelson Lugela's second-degree murder trial. "Mylan was running away."

Dennis and about 20 other Stamps players had been celebrating a big win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Marquee Beer Hall on Sept. 24, 2016. 

'​Mylan hit the concrete'​

"The shooter come out with a gun pointed toward [Hicks] and took a second shot," said Dennis, who had been in the parking lot.

A third shot hit Hicks, too.

"That's when I see Mylan hit the concrete face down," said Dennis.

The six-foot-three-inch, 330-pound offensive lineman wiped tears from his face as he described the futile efforts to save Hicks.

Another teammate, Jamal Nixon, grabbed Hicks and held him as he gasped for air.

Nixon unzipped Hicks' coat to reveal a bullet hole in his chest.

"I just took his hand and I said, 'fight man, fight, we're here for you,'" said Jerome Messam, another teammate who had been at the bar. 

Calgary Stampeders' Derek Dennis arrives for the trial of Nelson Tony Lugela, charged in the shooting death of Calgary Stampeder Mylan Hicks, in Calgary on Monday. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Several of Hicks' teammates described witnessing the shooter and his two friends jump into the silver SUV and drive away. 

After paramedics and police arrived, Dennis and a teammate got into a police car to be taken to CPS headquarters to give witness statements. As they were on their way, Dennis said he looked out the window and spotted the shooter and his two friends.

Dennis said he told the officers in the car to stop.

The officers asked for backup and arrested the three men in front of the Holiday Inn.

Fight over spilled drink

Lugela, 21, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Hicks, who was a 23-year-old defensive back on the practice roster with the Stampeders.

Hicks' mother, Renee Hill, wailed in grief in the courtroom as prosecutor Tom Sparks outlined the Crown's case in an opening statement for Justice Keith Yamauchi on Monday morning.

Lugela had gone to the Marquee Beer Market on Macleod Trail with two friends and had brought a loaded semi-automatic handgun, according to Sparks, which was left in a silver SUV outside the club.

The players arrived around 11:30 p.m. and court heard evidence that Stampeders' kicker Rene Paredes was at the bar ordering a drink when the person behind him thought Paredes had bumped into him and spilled his drink.

Three men, one of whom was Lugela, according to the Crown, became aggressive with Paredes, so some of the players came over to ensure their kicker and his girlfriend were safe. 

Hicks not involved in confrontation

Then-Stampeder Jerome Messam broke down in tears as he testified about the initial confrontation inside the bar. Messam said he took the hat from one of Lugela's friends and put it on his own head before giving it back. 

"I felt a lot of guilt because of how I handled the situation, provoking this guy with his hat," said Messam. "Mylan had nothing to do with none of it."

Coach Kahlil Carter was on the receiving end of some of that aggressive talk. He tried to calm the situation by buying a drink for the angry man and his friends.

"I saw a young brother who was acting out, thought I could make it better by buying him a shot," said Carter. "It just seemed like he was looking for a problem."

Gunshot residue

Hicks, who was originally from Detroit, died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Lugela dumped the gun in a nearby recycling bin, Sparks alleged to the judge.

Evidence will be presented showing Lugela had gunshot residue on his hand, the Crown said.

Sparks said the Crown will call 33 witnesses over the next five days, including many eyewitnesses to the shooting.

One witness is one of Lugela's friends, who was at the club and witnessed the shooting then helped lead police to the getaway SUV and dumped handgun.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner is representing Lugela and has suggested during cross-examination that the bar was crowded.

A number of Stampeders players will testify at the trial, which was purposely delayed until after the recent Grey Cup game won by Calgary.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.