Tory Lanez (identified in court by his birth name, Daystar Peterson) was found guilty in the shooting of rapper Megan Thee Stallion (Megan Pete) after one day of jury deliberation. Peterson pleaded not guilty to all three charges, which include one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, discharging a firearm with gross negligence, and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle. Peterson faces a maximum sentence of 22 years in prison. His sentencing hearing will take place on January 27, 2023.
Per reporters on the scene, the courtroom was plunged into pandemonium upon the verdict as Peterson’s father and step-mother “screamed” about injustice.
Throughout the two-week proceedings, prosecution and defense painted starkly different portraits of the shooting that occurred on July 12, 2020. “This was about jealousy...two woman that love a man and found out,” George Mgdesyan, Peterson’s defense attorney, told the court. Mgdesyan strongly suggested that Harris was the shooter, though there was little evidence to support that theory. He also argued that Megan lied about the shooting for publicity reasons, telling the jury that it would be a “better story” to implicate Peterson rather than her former friend and assistant.
“This is a case about a guy who shot a girl, then apologized for it,” Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott countered in closing statements. Bott also read directly from Megan’s emotional testimony, affirming that she has no reason to lie, and naming Peterson as the shooter has caused her immense distress. “If you believe Megan, that’s enough,” he said.
The jury heard testimony from nearly a dozen witnesses including la enforcement, a Cedars Sinai surgeon, and an eyewitness, but the most memorable people to take the stand were Megan Thee Stallion and former friend and assistant, Kelsey Harris.
On the first day of the trial, Megan told the court she’s suffered suicidal ideations since the shooting, and likened the fallout of naming Lanez as the shooter to “torture.”
“I can’t even be happy,” Megan told the court. “I can’t hold conversations with people for a long time. I don’t feel like I want to be on this earth. I wish he would have just shot and killed me, if I knew I would have to go through this torture.”
Lanez, she testified, shot her during an altercation following a gathering at Kylie Jenner’s mansion. Megan described leaving the party with Peterson, Harris, and Peterson’s driver and a fight ensuing when Peterson told her to “stop lying” about their relationship to Harris, who she said had a crush on Peterson. Per her testimony, she and Peterson had bonded over the loss of their mothers and maintained an occasional sexual relationship that Harris was unaware of. As the fight escalated, Megan testified that she left the vehicle and the next thing she realized, Lanez was firing at her.
“I started walking away and I hear Tory yell, ‘Dance, bitch!’” she recounted through tears, adding that she saw Lanez pointing the gun at her. “I froze. I just felt shock. I felt hurt. I looked down at my feet and I see all of this blood.”
The following day, Harris began her testimony by invoking the Fifth Amendment and was granted “use immunity” by Judge David Herriford, meaning her testimony could not be used to prosecute her in this case. On the stand, Harris told the court that the fight was prompted when Peterson didn’t want to leave Jenner’s home. The altercation continued in the car with Harris recalling that she, Megan, and Peterson called each other names. Consistent with Megan’s testimony, she remembered Peterson telling Megan something to the effect of “stop lying,” and the fight escalated. She also noted that Peterson called the women “bitches and hoes,” as Megan also testified on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Harris said. “He’s just saying that they had a relationship, they were having a relationship. An argument ensues and just continues. Me and her are arguing about her disloyalty.”
Though she often waffled regarding whether she saw Peterson fire the gun, or if threatened to shoot her while on the stand, the prosecution played an 80-minute interview with Harris that took place in September to fill in some of the gaps. Per the damning audio, Harris told prosecutors that she did see Peterson fire at Megan, and confirmed that he threatened to shoot her too.
“I get out of my side and no sooner do you know, you start hearing gunshots going off. I looked up maybe about the second or third gunshot. You see Tory, he’s now in the front seat. I guess he must have jumped over in a smooth transition, and he’s leaning over the door,” she told prosecutors. “He’s shooting over the top of the door,” Harris explained. “(He’s) leaning over the front passenger door, and he was shooting the gun.”
“(Megan) was walking away when this happened, but by the third or fourth shot, she was facing towards us, and I would describe it as like a deer in headlights (look),” she continued.
Within minutes of the shooting, Harris texted Megan’s bodyguard: “Help,’’ “Tory shot meg,’’ and “911.” Megan, bleeding from both feet, eventually reentered the vehicle, which was subsequently stopped by Los Angeles police, according to testimony from both women.
During the final day of her testimony, Harris attempted to recant her prior statements, saying she wasn’t being “100% truthful” in interviews with the prosecution. But texts sent by Harris—specifically one that corroborated the prosecution’s account that Harris approached Lanez during the altercation and he assaulted her—shown in court last week told a different story. One such message reads: “Should I get a scan at urgent care? My chest is hurting...My left side, back & neck hurt, but that’s from the fighting & him dragging me out of the car by my hair.”
On the contrary, during opening statements, Lanez’ defense strongly suggested Harris was the shooter. DNA results of the handgun were inconclusive, but the firearm was found “warm” and in “slide-lock position,” indicating it had recently been used and that all of the rounds were fired, according to police.
Though rumors have abounded regarding Megan’s injuries, Dr. Lee Haruno, chief resident in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s orthopedic surgery department, testified last week that bullet fragments were removed from both feet. During her testimony, Megan told the court Lanez made several attempts to apologize for the altercation in the days after the shooting—even trying to bribe her and Harris not to speak of the shooting. “I can’t go to jail, I’m already on probation,” Megan recalled Lanez pleading that night. She added that he told her and Harris, “I’ll give you a million dollars. Don’t tell on me.” Harris, too, hinted at Lanez offering them money.
Megan’s attorney said in a statement after the trial, “The jury got it right. I am thankful there is justice for Meg.”