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.
The charges come from a fight on July 12, 2020, after the rappers left a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house in Los Angeles. Lanez, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was on trial for three felony charges: assault with a semi-automatic firearm, possessing a concealed, unregistered firearm, and negligent gun discharge. 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 defense. This was part of a high-profile trial that had been going on for two weeks 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.
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 spoke about how he was made fun of, shamed, and threatened online.
“I can’t talk to people for long periods. 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, 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. Pete’s account of what happened that night pointed to Peterson as the shooter, so everyone was looking forward to hearing what Harris had to say about it. Harris’s testimony was also thought to give the defense 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 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.
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Peterson’s defense 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.
When Harris’s recorded testimony was played back, the suspicion of coercion was put back on the defendant. Harris told prosecutors that Peterson had offered each of the two women $1 million to keep quiet about the incident. When defense lawyer Mgdesyan asked Harris in open court if he had ever taken a bribe from Peterson, Harris said, “No, and I want to clarify that.”
Harris’s recorded interview and live testimony were very different, but the reasons are still a mystery. Harris seemed very upset in both cases when she talked about how her friendship with Pete ended after 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 weapon itself were not precise.
One thing was clear, though: Megan Pete had been shot. The orthopedic surgeon at Cedar Sinai Hospital who helped remove bullet fragments from Megan’s feet testified that he did the surgery and confirmed that some were too small to remove and are still in the rapper’s heels today.
When it was the defense’s turn to show that Kelsey Harris was the actual attacker, their crucial witness partly contradicted a previous statement, which was another exciting twist. Sean Kelly, who called 911 and said he saw the fight from his bedroom window, said he saw “two girls fighting” at first and a “muzzle flash” near one of the women. He also said he saw Peterson with his arms outstretched and shooting wildly and violently at both women. Kelly told the court, “They all fought, and they all fought all the time.”
With so many well-known people involved and such strange events, this trial has been at the center of a heated debate made worse by the constant spread of false information online. Facts about the case have been pushed aside in favor of sensual hot takes that are based on misinterpretations of evidence by independent blogs and unproven claims that a verdict was given early. In the two years, it took for this trial to happen, and there was disagreement in the hip-hop world about whether or not Pete was a real victim, how Black women were treated, and whether or not Black men were falsely accused. People v. Daystar Peterson has become a shining example of the misogyny that runs through society.
For the felony charges, Peterson could spend up to 22 years in prison. His lawyers will be able to try to change the decision.
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