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Megan Thee Stallion trial: Tory Lanez sentenced


LOS ANGELES-

In a courtroom turned chaotic after a tense trial, a Los Angeles jury on Friday found rapper Tory Lanez guilty of three felonies in the 2020 shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion. The attack left her injured with bullet fragments in her feet and Lanez’s conviction could send her to prison for more than 20 years.

Lanez, who was handcuffed and driven to jail while wearing a powder pink coat with matching pants, showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read.

But moments later, after the jury was escorted away, her father, Sonstar Peterson, stood up and shouted “This wicked system stands judged before Almighty God!” as the deputies closed in on him.

Peterson then pointed at the two prosecutors and yelled, “You two are mean, mean people. You know exactly what you have done.

With considerable effort, deputies dragged him out of the courtroom, where he shouted down the hall.

The jury of seven women and five men has been deliberating since Thursday before convicting the 30-year-old Canadian rapper, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, having a loaded firearm unregistered in a vehicle and grossly negligently discharging a firearm.

Jurors also agreed there were aggravating factors in the attack, meaning Lanez could face up to 22 years in prison and deportation when sentenced Jan. 25.

Three young children, including Lanez’s son, sat in the front row of the courtroom as the verdict was read. A young girl cried and was hugged by Lanez’s stepmother, who was also in tears before she started screaming with her husband.

Others in the audience shouted in agreement, and a woman shouted “we love you Tory” as he was led away.

Supporters of Megan and Lanez gathered outside the courthouse for most of the eight-day trial and swarmed the courtroom and hallway. The scene was tense at times, but remained mostly peaceful until the verdict was read.

Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, testified during the trial that Lanez shot a handgun at the back of her feet and yelled at her to dance as she walked away from a SUV they were driving through the Hollywood Hills in the summer of 2020. She said the two got into an argument that got particularly heated when she started insulting his music.

She had to undergo surgery to remove bullet fragments from her feet.

After the verdict, her lawyer, Alex Spiro, said “the jury was right” and said he was “grateful that there is justice for Meg”.

Lanez’s attorneys left without comment to reporters and an email sent to them seeking comment was not immediately returned.

The shooting sparked a firestorm of cultural issues and arguments that culminated during the trial, including black victims’ reluctance to speak to police, the protection of black women, gender politics in hip-hop, and toxicity online.

In closing arguments, prosecutors highlighted the courage it took for Megan to come forward and the vitriol the 27-year-old faced. They said she had no reason to tell anything other than the truth.

After the verdict, District Attorney George Gascon congratulated her.

“You have shown incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” Gascon said in a statement. “You have faced unfair and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face.”

Lanez’s attorney alleged in closing argument that the shots were actually fired by Megan’s best friend Kelsey Harris in a jealous fight with Lanez, who tried to stop the shooting. The attorney, George Mgdesyan, argued that Megan created a more sympathetic narrative by pinning the shooting on Lanez.

“Megan Pete is a liar. She lied about everything in this case from the start,” Mgdesyan said. “She lied under oath here.”

Harris denied being the shooter and had previously identified Lanez as the one holding the gun. His attorney, in an email, declined to comment on his involvement.

Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and has seen a steady rise in popularity, moving on to major label albums. His last two reached the top 10 on the Billboard charts.

Megan Thee Stallion was already a major rising star at the time of filming, and her notoriety has grown since.

She won a Best New Artist Grammy in 2021 and had No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with her own song “Savage,” featuring Beyonce, and as a guest on Cardi B’s “WAP.” .

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