On Friday, a Los Angeles jury reached a long-anticipated verdict surrounding the case of artist Megan Thee Stallion shooting some two-and-a-half years ago.
After two weeks of testimony and deliberation, fellow rapper Tory Lanez was found guilty on all three counts and now faces up to 20 years in prison and deportation to Canada.
The historic lawsuit, which has become a theme of rap rivalry and contest over the past two years, concerns a dispute that took place on July 12, 2020. Megan Pete (professionally known as ‘Megan Thee Stallion’), Daystar Peterson (‘Tory Lanez’), and their friend Kelsey Harris were travelling back from a party when the three clashed over Peterson’s relationship with Pete, prompting an argument that turned violent and ended with gunshots that wounded the Houston-born rapper’s feet.
Peterson allegedly offered both women $1 million if they kept silent about the incident, but Pete went public a few months later. Megan Pete’s allegations and Peterson’s vehement rebuttal have become the talk of the town in the rap world since.
On the first day of the trial, Peterson’s attorney George Mgdesyan confidently declared that the legal challenge to his client was all about ‘jealousy’. By the end of the trial, he was proven wrong.
The trial was conducted in the presence of a Los Angeles jury consisting of seven women and five men, and proceedings began December 12. The case opened with Pete’s emotional testimony in which she largely repeated her original charges while also recounting the distress and reputational damage brought about by the slanderous campaign against her integrity.
Other notable testimonies during the trial include the eyewitness account of Harris, which could have served as a decisive factor in incriminating Peterson, whose legal team has argued that it was Harris herself who shot Megan Pete that night. Despite invoking her 5th Amendment protections, however, Harris’ narrative of the event was inconclusive and self-contradictory on multiple points.
A DNA analysis of the weapon used for the discharge similarly failed to produce unambiguous results. Perhaps the most daunting moment of the trial came when a local resident Sean Kelly, who was called by the defense, ended up testifying against Tory Lanez. The nature of the injury in question was established by the attending surgeon who treated Pete at Cedar Sinai Hospital.
After two weeks of testimony and two days of deliberation, the jury unanimously found Peterson guilty on all three counts in question: Assault with a semiautomatic handgun, Discharging a firearm with gross negligence, and Carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm in a vehicle. The culprit did not show any visible reaction and was taken handcuffed from the court, although his father Sonstar Peterson could be seen yelling at the prosecution and was escorted out of the room by deputies.
A lawyer for Megan Pete simply expressed the team’s gratitude over the ‘justice’ delivered. Los Angeles District Attorney also George Gascón hailed the verdict, praising Megan’s “incredible courage and vulnerability” and lauding her decision to come forward with her story.
Image by: CNN