'Who Is The Shooter?' Closing Arguments In Case Of Slain Football Player

Nelson Lugela is seen in this undated police handout photo provided by the Alberta Courts. Final arguments are to be heard today at the trial of a man accused in the fatal shooting of a Calgary Stampeders football player.Nelson Lugela, 21, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mylan Hicks outside the Marquee Beer Market in Calgary on Sept. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Alberta Courts *MANDATORY CREDIT* © Provided by thecanadianpress.com Nelson Lugela is seen in this undated police handout photo provided by the Alberta Courts. Final arguments are to be heard today at the trial of a man accused in the fatal shooting of a Calgary Stampeders football player.Nelson Lugela, 21, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mylan Hicks outside the Marquee Beer Market in Calgary on Sept. 25, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Alberta Courts *MANDATORY CREDIT* CALGARY - The lawyer for a man accused in the fatal shooting of a professional football player says the case highlights the dangers of eyewitness testimony.

Nelson Lugela, 21, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mylan Hicks outside the Marquee Beer Market in Calgary on Sept. 25, 2016.

The trial heard that several Calgary Stampeders players, including Hicks from the team's practice roster, were celebrating a victory over Winnipeg in a CFL game hours earlier. A disagreement inside the bar over a spilled drink intensified in the parking lot after closing time.

Witnesses testified that after some pushing and shoving, an individual appeared holding a handgun and opened fire at Hicks, who was running for cover.

Hicks, 23, was hit twice — in the abdomen and the chest — and died in hospital.

Several witnesses identified Lugela as the man holding the handgun but one, a server at the bar, testified it was another individual from the group who pulled the trigger.

"This really highlights the dangers of eyewitness identification and the subsequent identification thereafter," defence lawyer Alain Hepner said in his closing arguments Wednesday.

"The issue for you is to identify who is the shooter," Hepner told Justice Keith Yamauchi, who is hearing the trial without a jury.

"If you are satisfied that the individual who discharged the weapon we speak of is Nelson Lugela, then we go onto the evidence of intoxication reducing murder to manslaughter."

Hepner argued there isn't enough evidence for Yamauchi to convict Lugela.

"Eyewitness identification is fair at best. It's not accurate and the dangers of eyewitness identification has been relayed in many cases across our country."

Court heard the shooter and two other young men jumped into an SUV and sped away. Police said they arrested three people about 45 minutes later when they returned to the scene.

Crown prosecutor Gord Haight conceded that eyewitness testimony isn't always reliable.

"This case is somewhat instructive that so many people who saw apparently the same thing differ on details ... but the Crown's case is more than just the eyewitness evidence. This is not a case which rises or falls solely on evidence of the eyewitnesses," Haight said.

"My submission is that a good starting point for analysis ... is not so much the evidence of the eyewitnesses, but rather the physical and forensic evidence which, in my respectful submission, establishes a number of things in an airtight manner."

Haight said all the evidence points to Lugela's guilt and shell casings from the scene matched the gun recovered in a recycling bin.

Haight suggested that the forensic evidence along with eyewitness accounts proves the Crown's case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Yamauchi is expected to deliver his verdict March 11.

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