LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Friday found Daystar Peterson, the Canadian rapper better known as Tory Lanez, guilty of shooting fellow artist, Megan Thee Stallion, in both feet following a argument over their romantic entanglements and their respective careers in the summer of 2020.
Mr. Lanez, 30, was convicted of three counts: assault with a semi-automatic handgun, carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a weapon fired with gross negligence. He faces more than 20 years in prison and could be expelled.
Jurors reached a verdict after about seven hours of deliberation over two days, following a trial that lasted nearly two weeks. Mr. Lanez, who had been released on bail during the trial after a period of house arrest, was immediately taken into custody. Sentencing was scheduled for January 27.
Megan Thee Stallion was not present in court. As the verdict was read, Mr. Lanez appeared motionless and stared straight ahead until his father stood up and began yelling at the judge and prosecutors. “God will judge you,” he said, as the ushers moved to block his path.
Alex Spiro, attorney for Megan Thee Stallion, said in a statement: “The jury has it right. I’m grateful there’s justice for Meg.
The case, which has unfolded as both a sordid tabloid narrative and a weighty referendum on the treatment of black women in hip-hop and beyond, has been closely watched both for its characters famous people and what she said about the recent judgment on alleged abuse by notables. men, such as Johnny Depp and Harvey Weinstein, in court and in public.
Mr. Lanez, although not a household name prior to the affair, has seen his celebrity profile rise since filming, gaining explicit and implicit support from various corners of the hip-hop universe, including influential blogs, social media accounts and rappers-turned-talking-heads 50 Cent and Joe Budden.
In court, Mr Lanez’s defense had raised the possibility of another shooter, a friend of Megan Thee Stallion who was also involved in the argument, which occurred on the way home from a rally at the TV star’s home. -reality and beauty mogul Kylie Jenner. .
But Megan Thee Stallion, who gave evidence in the case, identified Mr Lanez as her attacker, tearfully recounting how he shouted ‘dance’ at her and a sexist slur before firing multiple times from the passenger seat of a vehicle sport utility.
She said Mr Lanez then apologized and offered her and friend Kelsey Harris a million dollars each to keep quiet about what happened.
In his closing argument, Alexander Bott, an assistant prosecutor, said Mr Lanez was pushed to breaking point when Megan Thee Stallion belittled her artistic stature, noting she was reluctant to come forward after the traumatic event .
“Megan worked up the courage to come and tell you what the defendant did to her,” Mr Bott told jurors. “Was Megan telling the truth? I think everyone in the courtroom knows the answer to that question.
The attorney added, of Mr Lanez, ‘Hold him accountable for shooting the victim for nothing more than a bruised ego.’
Mr. Lanez’s defense team argued that the two women had an argument that night over the male rapper, implying that Ms. Harris may have been motivated to shoot her friend out of jealousy when she learned that Mr. Lanez and Megan Thee Stallion had been intimate behind her back.
George Mgdesyan, a lawyer for Mr Lanez, said the case “concerned jealousy and a sexual relationship”, calling the prosecution case “full of holes and speculation”. Megan Thee Stallion “lied about everything in this case,” he told jurors.
Some eyewitnesses provided confused accounts of the shooting at trial, although most said they saw Mr. Lanez with a gun. Ms Harris, who was offered immunity in exchange for her testimony, denied pulling the trigger or receiving silent money from Mr Lanez, the Los Angeles Times reported. But on the stand she also backtracked on her previous statements to police which identified Mr Lanez as the shooter, testifying that amid the drunken scuffle she did not see who had shot Megan Thee Stallion.
Prosecutors then received permission from the judge to broadcast Ms Harris’ entire 80-minute interview with detectives from September, in which she implicated Mr Lanez. They also featured a text message Ms Harris sent to Megan Thee Stallion’s bodyguard the night of the shooting, writing “Help” and “Tory shot Meg”. (In response to her conflicting accounts, Ms. Harris said she could not remember what she had said before and had not been entirely honest with prosecutors in the past.)
Another eyewitness, who saw the encounter from the window of a nearby house, said he observed a violent and chaotic fight and that the first “lightning” – which he initially believed to be fireworks, noting that he had never seen a gun – came from a woman. But the witness added that he then saw a short man, believed to be Mr Lanez, “shooting everywhere” four or five times, Rolling Stone reported.
Experts testified that gunshot residue was found on Mr Lanez and Ms Harris, who were nearby, although DNA evidence linking Mr Lanez to the weapon was inconclusive. (Police did not take a DNA sample from Ms Harris.)
Before the trial, the case had unfolded on social media, gossip sites and in music posted by the two rappers.
Megan Thee Stallion, who had collaborated with Beyoncé shortly before filming and won three Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, in 2021, was initially cautious about what happened.
“Look what coming forward has done to his life, his reputation and his career,” Mr. Bott, the assistant district attorney, said in his closing remarks, sometimes raising his voice in emphasis. “Do you think she wants to be here?”
In her testimony, the rapper said she did not tell officers she had been shot that night in July – instead claiming she had walked on glass – because tensions between black people and law enforcement was strong after the murder of George Floyd. “I didn’t want to see anyone die,” she said. “I didn’t want to die.”
She was also worried about her career. “I didn’t want to talk to the officers because I didn’t want to be a snitch,” the rapper added. “The snitch is frowned upon in the hip-hop community,” which she identified as a boys’ club.
In a statement after the verdict, George Gascón, the Los Angeles District Attorney, highlighted what he called Megan Thee Stallion’s bravery in court. “You have shown incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” he said. “Women, especially black women, are afraid to report crimes like sexual assault and violence because they are too often not believed.”
Initially, Mr. Lanez was arrested and charged only with concealing a firearm in the vehicle. But in the days and weeks that followed, Megan Thee Stallion revealed online and in a detective interview that she had been shot, ultimately naming Mr Lanez as her attacker. In October, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Lanez with assault.
Yet for years, some skeptics and conspiracy theorists have wondered if Megan Thee Stallion was shot. At trial, a surgeon testified that he removed bullet fragments from both of the rapper’s feet, with x-rays shown in court showing tiny fragments remaining.
Mr Lanez, who chose not to testify in his own defence, did not detail his version of events, despite releasing an album just two months after the encounter in which he denied shooting Megan Thee Stallion, focusing instead on their personal relationship.
“We both know what happened that night and what I did / But that ain’t what they say,” he rapped.
Megan Thee Stallion then responded in her own track, titled “Shots Fired,” in which she seemed to recount what led up to the shooting — “He’s talking about his followers, dollars,” she raps, adding, “I told him, ‘You’re not poppin’, you’re just on the remix’” – along with its consequences. (“You offered M not to talk, I guess that got my friend excited, hmm / now you’re all in cahoots.”)
On the stand, Megan Thee Stallion said she initially lied about the extent of her personal involvement with Mr Lanez, including in a TV interview with Gayle King, because it was “disgusting”, she said declared. “How could I share my body with someone who could shoot me?”
Even as her career skyrocketed, the assault made her “lose confidence, lose my friends, lose myself,” she told the court. “I wish he had shot me and killed me.”