Tory Lanez convicted of shooting Megan Thee Stallion

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Tory Lanez, a singer and rapper, was found guilty of assaulting another rapper, Megan Thee Stallion. On Dec. 23, all of the charges against the Canadian artist were found to be true.

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The charges come from a fight that happened on July 12, 2020, after the rappers left a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house in Los Angeles. Tory Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was on trial for three felony charges: assault with a semi-automatic firearm, possession of a concealed, unregistered firearm, and negligent discharge of a firearm. Peterson, who is 30 years old, was accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete, in both feet after a fight in a car leaving a party at 4 a.m. spilled out into the street.

In Los Angeles Superior Court, a jury of seven women and five men deliberated for two days after hearing arguments from both the prosecution and the defence. This was part of a high-profile trial that had been going on for two weeks, right up until the Christmas holiday weekend.

During the last two weeks of witness and expert testimony, the victim herself gave emotional testimony, testimony took unexpected turns, and different people had different ideas about what the hard evidence in the case meant.

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Megan Pete’s name was one of the first ones called by the prosecution. She told the court what happened and pointed at Peterson as the person who shot her. The Houston rapper also talked about how the attack and the court case have affected her life and career over the last two and a half years. Pete talked about how some people in the “big, boys’ club” of the music industry kept doubting him and making fun of him. He also talked about how he was made fun of, shamed, and threatened online.

“I can’t talk to people for long periods of time. I feel like I don’t want to be here. If I had known I would have to go through this torture, I wish he would have just shot me “Pete, who was 27 at the time, told the jury members as he cried.

After Pete said what he did, the prosecution’s most important witness, Kelsey Harris, changed her story, which hurt their case. Harris was in the car with the two rappers that night. He used to be Pete’s best friend and work assistant. Harris’ testimony was highly anticipated as potential corroboration for Pete’s account of the night, which pegged Peterson as the shooter. Harris’s testimony was also thought to give the defence a reason to look into the idea that she, not Peterson, was the shooter in this situation.

But when Harris took the stand on December 14, she asked to use her right under the 5th Amendment not to be forced to testify against herself. The prosecution offered Harris use immunity, which means that information directly or indirectly derived from her testimony or other information can’t be used against her in any criminal case. However, she was still hesitant to answer many questions, sometimes not even admitting that she knew Pete had been shot. Even though she confirmed that Pete rested her leg on Harris as they ran from the police and was later photographed in jail with Pete’s blood on her, Harris kept saying, “Her team told me she stepped on glass” and that she “didn’t know she was bleeding.”

Since the incident, almost three years ago, Harris and Pete haven’t talked to each other.

Peterson’s defence attorney, George Mgdsesyan, started his cross-examination of Harris by asking if she had been bribed by his client, based on the fact that she was very hesitant on the stand. She denied this. Mgdsesyan then made it sound like the District Attorney’s Office was trying to force Harris to do something. In response, DDA Kathy Ta and Alexander Bott asked that Kelsey’s interview with them in September 2022 be used as proof. This way, the jury could hear Kelsey’s full story of what happened that night and see that she wasn’t forced to do anything.

Playback of Harris’s recorded testimony shifted suspicion of coercion back to the defendant, as Harris told prosecutors Peterson offered both women $1 million each to keep quiet about the incident. When defence lawyer Mgdesyan asked Harris in open court if he had ever taken a bribe from Peterson, Harris said, “No, and I want to make that very clear.”

While the mysterious factors causing large discrepancies between Harris’ recorded interview and live testimony went unanswered, Harris in both instances appeared emotionally distraught when talking about the dissolution of her friendship with Pete in the aftermath of the shooting.

As the prosecution brought in DNA and gunshot residue (GSR) experts, most of the direct evidence of the case didn’t help prove what happened that night: Kelsey Harris and Tory Lanez were both holding GSR. Tory’s DNA was not found on the gun’s magazine, but the results of the defendant’s DNA tests on the gun itself were not clear.

Trying to figure out why Megan Thee Stallion was shot and what happened next

One thing was clear, though: Megan Pete had been shot. The attending Cedar Sinai Hospital orthopedic surgeon who assisted in removing bullet fragments out of Megan’s feet testified to performing the surgery and confirmed that there were fragments too microscopic to remove and that they are still in the heels of the rapper’s feet today.

In another testimonial twist, when it was the defense’s turn to prove their theory that Kelsey Harris was the real assailant, their key witness also partially reneged on a previous statement. 911 caller Sean Kelly, who claimed to see the fight from his bedroom window, testified that he did see “two girls fighting” at first and that a “muzzle flash” went off closer to a woman, but said he also saw Peterson with his arms outstretched and firing wildly and violently, assaulting both women. “They were all fighting … they all struggled continuously,” Kelly told the court.

With such high profile parties and the bizarre circumstances of the event, this trial has been at the center of a polarizing debate marred by the continuous spread of misinformation online. Misinterpreted evidence by independent blogs and unsubstantiated claims of a verdict being rendered early have sidelined the facts of the case in favor of salacious hot takes. In the two years it took for this trial to happen, there’s been disagreement in the hip-hop world about Pete’s believability as a victim, normalized mistreatment of Black women and false accusations made against Black men. The case of People v. Daystar Peterson has become a magnifying glass for the inherent misogynoir that courses through society.

Peterson is facing up to 22 years in prison for the felony charges. His legal team will have a chance to appeal the decision.

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