Calgary

'You are a dangerous man': Judge hands down life sentence to man who killed Calgary Stampeder

The "cowardly" killer who fatally shot a Calgary Stampeders football player as he fled from gunfire outside a nightclub must spend 18 years in prison before he can apply for parole.

Nelson Lugela fatally shot Mylan Hicks and won't be eligible for parole for 18 years

Nelson Lugela, left, was convicted of second-degree murder in the killing Mylan Hicks, right. (Crime Stoppers/Calgary Stampeders)

The "cowardly" killer who fatally shot a Calgary Stampeders football player as he fled from gunfire outside a nightclub must spend 18 years in prison before he can apply for parole.

Nelson Lugela, 21, was found guilty of second-degree murder earlier this year in the death of Mylan Hicks, 23, who was on the practice roster of the Stampeders.

"You are a dangerous man, Mr. Lugela," Court of Queen's Bench Justice Keith Yamauchi told the killer as he handed down the life sentence with no chance of parole for 18 years. 

"In my view, it is necessary not only to protect the public from you and prevent you from harming anyone else, but also to deter you and all others from committing such horrible violent crimes in our community."

Hicks, a Detroit native, was in Canada to play football.

His mother Renee Hill believed Hicks would be safe in Canada.

"I am not a vengeance person because I think vengeance is for the Lord but in this case … I'll have to repent. I want him to come out in a box, he sent my son home in a box," said Hill outside the courtroom Wednesday.

In 2016, Hicks was shot outside the Marquee nightclub, where he and his teammates had been celebrating a Saturday night win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Earlier in the night some of the players got in an argument with Lugela and his friends but Hicks was nowhere near the altercation. 

Once the club closed and patrons streamed outside, Lugela reignited the dispute and opened fire. 

Hicks began running when he heard a gunshot and was hit twice as he tried to flee.

In his decision, Yamauchi noted there was no motive for the killing.

"Mr. Hicks was defenceless and he was trying to escape the situation when Mr. Lugela gunned him down," said the judge.

According to a pre-sentence report, Lugela is a high risk to violently reoffend.

A second-degree murder conviction comes with an automatic life sentence.

Prosecutor Gord Haight argued Lugela should wait 17 to 19 years before he could seek release and defence lawyer Alain Hepner had proposed a 14-year term.

Hill expressed some relief that the court process is over and she can now stop travelling between Calgary and Detroit. 

"It's wrapped up on this side," she said.

"It'll never be wrapped, and when I say that it simply means that this is a chapter that's somewhat behind me, not closed because [Lugela] still gets to walk planet Earth," she said.

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

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