CALGARY (660 NEWS) — “Hallelujah, again. Glory to God. Thank you, Jesus, for answering my prayers.”
That’s the words from Renee Hill after she learned her son’s killer will spend life in prison with no chance of parole for 18 years.
Nelson Lugela was sentenced in a Calgary court on Wednesday, over two years since Calgary Stampeders player Mylan Hicks was killed.
Hicks was shot to death outside the Marquee Beer Market on September 25th, 2016, and Lugela was found guilty earlier this year of second-degree murder.
Court heard there was a dispute inside the club, involving some Stampeders players and a friend of Lugela.
It escalated outside when Lugela got a gun and shot Hicks.
The sentence is in the range of 17 to 19 years of parole ineligibility sought by the Crown.
“18 years is a considerable sentence. It’s in the top end of the range for second-degree murder,” said prosecutor Gordon Haight.
Justice Keith Yamauchi ruled that Lugela is a threat to society, as he had a long criminal record before the murder — involving some weapons offences.
“Mr. Lugela, as Justice Yamauchi stated frankly today, is a dangerous person. And the sentence that he gave today goes a long way to protect the public,” Haight added.
The defence is planning to appeal, as is normal in these cases, but Lugela’s counsel, Alain Hepner, did not speak to reporters after the ruling.
Haight said it is also extremely likely Lugela will never be free, due to the threat he poses.
For Hill, it’s a big weight off of her shoulders.
“He was an awesome, awesome young man,” she said, while wearing a shirt with Hicks’ picture on it under the word ‘Focus’.
Hill agrees the sentence is appropriate, but still hopes for a little more, and does not want Lugela to be back on the streets ever again.
“He took my son’s life, and I hope he comes out in a box. Forgive me Jesus, I hope he comes out in a box.”
Hill was present throughout the whole trial but didn’t decide until the last minute to come back for the final day.
“I went to bed…couldn’t sleep. My soul was vexed, it’s the God’s honest truth. I woke up at 5 o’clock in the morning, told my husband “Reg, I don’t care what we have to do, I have to come back. That’s my child, I’ve got to see it through,'” said Hill. “I wanted to see that killer’s face, when he knew he wasn’t coming out today or no time soon.”
She said she has also paid all the bills during the case, with no assistance, as the costs have been piling up due to flights between Calgary and Detroit and hotel stays.
Hill would like assistance, but at this time the result of the case is more important, and she would have “paid her life” for a ticket back to Calgary if it came to that.
WATCH: Mother of slain Stampeder talks about emotional trial
Lugela showed no emotion as the sentence was read, but Hill doesn’t buy the tough guy facade.
“If Nelson really wanted to flex, all he had to do was throw them hands. Mylan would’ve just taken him down like he was on the field. But a punk would use a gun, he didn’t need that,” Hill said. “He’s a toddler. My daughter works in a jail. I hear about all that big stuff they put on, the face they put on. But behind the scenes? Crying like a baby.”
Now that there is a resolution in the case, Hill says she will celebrate in Calgary before going back to Detroit.
“He loved cheeseburgers. Sloppy, ketchup, mustard running through his fingers. I’m going to have a burger on my baby,” said Hill. “You don’t know how many people wanted to come here, that I would not allow to come here because I didn’t want confusion.”
Stampeders Head Coach Dave Dickenson also spoke about the sentence following the teams practice at McMahon Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
“Mylan’s in our thoughts. We understand what happened but we also know that both Reggie and Renee need our support,” Dickenson said. “Just thought he was a great person. Wish I got to know him better.”
No matter what, Hill breathes a sigh of relief.
“Though I’m in pain, I can smile.”
With files from The Canadian Press.