Rapper Tory Lanez opted not to testify Wednesday in his trial on charges that he shot and wounded fellow musician Megan Thee Stallion in the Hollywood Hills following an argument between the two entertainers over their careers.
Superior Court Judge David Herriford instructed jurors that Lanez — whose real name is Daystar Peterson — has an “absolute constitutional right not to testify” and that they are not to consider that for “any reason at all.”
The jury is due back in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday afternoon, when it is expected to begin hearing closing arguments.
Lanez, 30, is charged with one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, discharging a firearm with gross negligence and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle, along with allegations that he personally used a firearm and inflicted great bodily injury on Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete.
In a packed courtroom last week, Megan Thee Stallion testified that Lanez told her to “dance, bitch,” and shot her in the feet following a July 12, 2020, get-together at Kylie Jenner’s home. The entertainer said she had no doubt that Lanez fired the shots.
Megan Thee Stallion testified that Lanez offered her $1 million not to say anything and that he said he couldn’t go to jail because he was already on probation — the latter of which defense attorney George Mgdesyan told jurors Monday was simply not the case.
She said she felt pain in both of her feet, but agreed to get back in the vehicle with Lanez and two other people, including Harris, after the shooting because she was wearing a thong bikini and felt like her manager would know what to do if she was able to get to him.
Megan Thee Stallion said the vehicle was stopped soon afterward by police, who ordered all of the occupants out, as her feet were still bleeding. She said she told police that she had stepped on glass when they began questioning her.
“At this time, we were at the height of police brutality with George Floyd,” she said, adding that she didn’t want to see anybody die and that it was “not really acceptable” in the Black community to cooperate with police.
Under cross-examination, the rapper said she initially had no intention of talking about what had happened and “didn’t want to be a snitch” but felt she had to “defend my name” when she saw that people were “making up things” and suggesting that she had never been shot at all.
Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott told jurors during opening statements that Megan Thee Stallion had to undergo surgery after being shot in the feet following an argument in which she “insulted” Lanez’s skills as a musical artist and demanded to be let out of the Cadillac Escalade in which the two were riding after leaving a get-together at Jenner’s house. She left a trail of blood behind her before eventually getting back into the vehicle, which was subsequently stopped by Los Angeles police, Bott said.
Within about five minutes of the shooting, a female friend who was with Megan Thee Stallion texted one of the rapper’s security guards, “Help,” “Tory shot meg,” and “911,” the prosecutor said, and police subsequently found the gun still warm to the touch on the floorboard near where Lanez had been seated, according to the prosecutor.
Lanez and the rapper’s female friend, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, both later tested positive for gunshot residue, the deputy district attorney said.
Lanez’s attorney told jurors that it is his job to show them that Megan Thee Stallion is “lying.”
Mgdesyan said it was a “case about jealousy,” telling jurors that the two women had gotten into an argument while in the SUV and that a neighbor reported witnessing a fistfight between the women after the vehicle stopped on Nichols Canyon Road.
He questioned why the other woman, Kelsey Harris, who had been in the vehicle would have had gunshot residue on her if she wasn’t the person who fired the shots and said police failed to test the gun to check if her DNA could be found on the weapon, and said he expected jurors to acquit his client after they heard the entire case.
Harris testified that she didn’t know who shot Megan Thee Stallion, didn’t want to be involved in the case and denied receiving any “hush money” from Lanez. In a recorded interview subsequently played in court, Harris can be heard telling prosecutors that she saw Lanez shooting at his fellow rapper, but said he “did not say anything.”
During cross-examination of Harris, the defense attorney asked if she was “aware that the defense theory was that you were the shooter.” Harris, who was granted use immunity to testify during the trial, has maintained that she “did not” shoot her former best friend, for whom she was working at the time as a personal assistant.
In a video posted on Instagram Live following the shooting, Megan Thee Stallion said, “Tory shot me. You shot me and you got your publicist and your people are lying … Stop lying.”
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, she wrote that she was “recently the victim of an act of violence by a man” and that she was initially silent about what had happened “out of fear for myself and my friends.”
“Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment,” she wrote. “The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”
The rapper gained fame in part through freestyling videos shared widely on Instagram. Her song “Savage” went viral on TikTok and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 2020, while her provocative collaboration with Cardi B on “WAP” garnered her more attention.
In a posting last year on Twitter, Lanez wrote, “I have all faith in God to show that … love to all my fans and people that have stayed true to me & know my heart … a charge is not a conviction.”