Jury deliberations began Thursday in a Los Angeles courtroom in the trial of rapper Tory Lanez, who was charged with allegedly shooting and injuring hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion on July 12, 2020, in the Hollywood Hills.
Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete, accused Lanez of shooting her on the witness stand, while the rapper, who did not testify, pleaded not guilty.
Here are six takeaways so far from a high-profile case that sparked heated debate about society’s treatment of Black women in the hip-hop community and beyond.
Megan Thee Stallion claims Lanez shot her in her emotional expression
Pete took the witness stand last Tuesday, where he recounted the events leading up to the night he was allegedly shot and injured by hip-hop star Lanez, saying that he wished he hadn’t survived the intense criticism and attacks. met after talking.
“This has ruined my whole life,” he said. “…I don’t even want to be in this world anymore.”
According to a Los reporter, the Grammy-winning artist stated that after arguing with Lanez on the night of July 12, 2020, he got out of the car and turned his head as he drove away and saw her with a gun. Angeles ABC station, KABC, was in the courtroom.
“He was pointing the gun at me,” he said, according to KABC, claiming he said “dance b—-” and injuring both of his feet by firing his gun.
“I froze … I felt shocked,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure if this was happening… I looked at the ground and saw the blood… everyone was shocked.”
Pete’s attorney, Alex Spiro, told ABC News in a phone interview after his testimony Tuesday that Pete’s main message was “he’s a victim of a gunshot and this case is about that and that’s the truth. It’s the end of the story.” .
Pete claimed that while on the stand, Lanez apologized to him after the alleged shooting and offered money to keep quiet.
“Please don’t say anything, I’ll give you $1 million,” said the woman, describing a conversation that took place on the night of the incident when the police arrived at the scene.
During the trial, prosecutors presented to the jury a recorded phone call of Lanez, who appeared to be apologizing to Pete after he was arrested the night he was shot. The rapper’s phone call from prison was recorded and tapped at the hearing.
Spiro also pointed to a text message from Lanez apologizing to Megan, which was presented to the jury as part of the evidence in this case.
Asked about the recorded phone call and text message, Lanez’s lawyers did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Tory Lanez pleaded not guilty
Lanez did not appear on the witness stand during the trial, and his lawyers argued that their client was not a hitman.
“This is a very unfortunate case,” Lanez’s defense attorney, George Mgdesyan, said during Wednesday’s closing discussions, according to KABC. “Someone was shot. Megan Pete was shot … my client is not a hitman … my client has been falsely accused.”
Lanez, a popular rapper legally named Daystar Peterson, was first charged in October 2020 with assault with a semi-automatic firearm (personal use of a firearm) and carrying a loaded, unlicensed firearm in a vehicle. Charge documents received by ABC News. “Personal use of a firearm” is not a separate charge, but a penalty improvement linked to the first count that could increase Lanez’s possible sentence.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office confirmed in a statement to ABC News that Lanez was charged earlier this month with gross negligence discharging a firearm.
Lanez pleaded not guilty to all three felony charges in this case.
Speaking to ABC News before the hearing, Lanez’s lawyer Sarkis Manukyan said: “We are confident that at the end of this trial the truth will come out and Mr. Peterson will be acquitted of all charges.”
Lanez’s defense attorneys claimed someone else had the gun.
According to KABC, Los Angeles police criminal Randy Zepeda testified Monday about the DNA evidence in the case and said the firearms magazine had DNA from the four men, and although Lanez’s DNA was not found. It means not touched.
He also testified that testing for the presence of Lanez’s DNA profile on the weapon was inconclusive, meaning it was neither present nor present.
If convicted as charged, Lanez will face up to 22 years and 8 months in prison, according to prosecutors. Closing discussions will continue on Thursday.
Doctor describes Megan’s foot injuries
According to prosecutors, Lanez inflicted “personally major bodily injury” on Pete after the two got into an argument while driving in an SUV in the Hollywood Hills, resulting in both feet injury and medical treatment at Cedars-Sinai for that. Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Chief orthopedic assistant at Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Lee Haruno took the witness stand on Thursday and described Pete’s injuries after he was shot and showed the jury the X-rays.
Haruno said she helped him get surgery on his feet after he was shot and stitched and stayed in the hospital overnight on July 12, 2020.
Pointing at the X-rays, Haruno detected bits of lead behind the heels of both of Pete’s feet.
“I couldn’t walk for a while … I had nerve damage … I still have nerve damage,” Pete said in his statement, describing his injuries, according to KABC.
When asked about Pete’s injuries, Haruno added that he had not identified nerve damage, but added that some small bullet fragments still remained in his feet because removing such small fragments could cause further damage.
He added that remaining metal objects can be painful.
The neighbor who saw the shooting from his house spoke
According to police, four people were present when the incident occurred: Pete and another woman, Kelsey Harris, Lanez, and his bodyguard, Jaquan Smith, who was the driver that night.
Sean Kelly, who witnessed the alleged shooting from his home, said that someone he identified as Lanez opened fire, but said he thought one of the women had shot because he saw a “flash” near Harris and Pete.
He said he didn’t see a gun but saw Pete and Harris arguing, and the argument escalated and “became quite violent”.
He said he “sees a muzzle blast” on Monday, followed by Lanez getting out of the car after the first flashes, followed by more flashes.
He said that Lanez was “shooting everywhere” and looking angry.
Harris and Pete were friends at the time of the shooting, but have since distanced themselves from each other, according to court statements. Pete said no when asked if Harris had shot him during his deposition. When asked if he was the shooter during his deposition, Harris said “no”.
Key witness changes story
When Harris took the stand, saying that he didn’t remember much of what happened that night, he changed his story and asked questions about which account the jury would believe.
One key piece of evidence presented to the jury was a text message that Harris sent minutes after the incident to Pete’s bodyguard, Justin Edison, that read, “Help Tory shoot down Meg 911.”
Asked about the message, Harris said she panicked when she sent it.
“I don’t know why I said this to Justin. I didn’t see anything happen,” Harris said, according to KABC.
Harris initially confirmed details in a video interview with prosecutors in September that pointed to Lanez as the alleged hitman. Harris also claimed in the interview that Lanez assaulted him and threatened to shoot him, but said on the witness stand that he did not remember this happening.
“Some of the things I said in September weren’t true,” Harris said on the witness stand.
When asked why his story changed, Harris told prosecutors he was “protecting himself” but did not explain why.
The September 80-minute video interview with Harris was played Friday to the jury, who could hear his contradictory accounts.
Spiro told ABC News it was a case of “proper amnesia.”
On the witness stand, when asked if Lanez offered any money or favors to Harris after the incident, Harris said “no” and asked if the defense or any of Lanez’s team had tried to speak to Harris since the incident, he said “no”. According to KABC.
ABC News reached out to Harris and Lanez’s attorneys, but requests for comment were not returned.
Key witnesses do not testify
Smith and Edison, the two key witnesses who were asked to testify, did not appear in court, and questions were raised about their whereabouts during the trial.
There is no indication that Smith is scheduled to testify, and Spiro claimed in an interview with ABC News on Saturday that Smith was “unreachable” for much of the case.
ABC News’ attempts to reach out to Smith were unsuccessful, and it’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.
“We will not be discussing matters involving potential witnesses as the trial continues,” the LA County District Attorney’s Office told ABC News, when asked where he was and if he had been summoned to court.
Spiro claimed that Edison, who was scheduled to testify on Friday, did not show up and was missing, asking questions about his whereabouts, which prompted the LA County Attorney to “investigate his disappearance.”
When asked about Edison’s whereabouts and whether he was truly unreachable, his lawyer Laura Bell told ABC News on Monday that she “has no comment on this case.”