Jury deliberations began in a Los Angeles courtroom on Thursday in the trial of rapper Tory Lanez, who is facing charges for allegedly shooting and injuring hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion on July 12, 2020 in the Hollywood Hills.
Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal 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 the six takeaways so far from a high-profile case that has sparked heated debates in the hip-hop community and beyond about society’s treatment of Black women.
Megan Thee Stallion alleges that Lanez shot her in emotional testimony
Pete took the witness stand last Tuesday, where the hip-hop star recounted the events that led up to the night when she was allegedly shot and injured by Lanez and said that she wished that she had not survived because of the intense vitriol and attacks she faced after speaking out.
“This has messed up my whole life,” she said. “…I don’t even want to be on this earth anymore.”
The Grammy-winning artist testified that on the night of July 12, 2020, she got out of a car following an argument with Lanez and as she walked away, she turned her head and saw him with a gun, according to a reporter with Los Angeles ABC station, KABC, who was in the courtroom.
“He was holding the gun pointing at me,” she said, according to KABC, and claimed that he said “dance b—-” and fired his gun, injuring both her feet.
“I froze… I felt shocked,” she 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 following her testimony on Tuesday that her main message was that “she’s a victim of a shooting and that’s what this case is about and that’s the truth. End of story.”
While on the stand, Pete alleged that Lanez apologized to her after the alleged shooting and offered her money to stay silent.
“Please don’t say anything, I’ll give you $1 million,” she said, recounting an alleged conversation she said took place the night of the incident as police arrived on the scene.
During the trial, prosecutors presented to the jury a recorded phone call of Lanez appearing to apologize to Pete after he was arrested the night of the shooting. The phone call, which the rapper made from jail, was recorded and played at the trial.
Spiro also pointed to a text message of Lanez apologizing to Megan that was also presented to the jury as part of the evidence in this case.
Asked about the recorded phone call and the text message, Lanez’s attorneys did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Tory Lanez pleads not guilty
Lanez did not take the witness stand during the trial and his attorneys argued that their client was not the shooter.
“It’s a very unfortunate case,” Lanez’ defense attorney George Mgdesyan said during closing arguments on Wednesday, according to KABC. “Someone got shot. Megan Pete got shot…my client is not the shooter…my client is being falsely accused.”
Lanez, a popular rapper whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, was initially charged in October 2020 with one felony count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm (personal use of a firearm), and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle, according to charging documents obtained by ABC News. “Personal use of a firearm” is not a separate charge but a sentencing enhancement linked to the first count that could increase Lanez’s possible sentence.
Lanez was charged earlier this month with an additional felony count of discharging a firearm with gross negligence, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office confirmed to ABC News.
Lanez pleaded not guilty to all three felony counts in this case.
“We are confident that at the conclusion of this trial the truth will come out and Mr. Peterson will be exonerated of all charges,” Lanez’s attorney Sarkis Manukyan told ABC News ahead of the trial.
Lanez’s defense attorneys suggested that someone else had the gun.
Randy Zepeda, a Los Angeles police criminalist, testified on Monday about the DNA evidence in the case, according to KABC, saying that the DNA of four males was found on the firearm magazine and while Lanez’ DNA was not found, it doesn’t mean he didn’t touch it.
He also testified that the test for the presence of Lanez’s DNA profile on the gun was inconclusive, which means neither present or not present.
If he is convicted as charged, Lanez faces up to 22 years and 8 months in prison, according to prosecutors. Closing arguments are set to resume on Thursday.
Doctor describes Megan’s foot injuries
According to prosecutors, Lanez “personally inflicted great bodily injury” upon Pete after the two got into an argument while riding in an SUV in the Hollywood Hills, resulting in injuries to both of her feet for which she received medical treatment at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Dr. Lee Haruno, the chief orthopedic resident at Cedars-Sinai, took the witness stand on Thursday where he described Pete’s injuries after the shooting and showed X-rays to the jury.
Haruno said that he assisted in operating on her feet after she was shot on July 12, 2020 where she received stitches and stayed in the hospital overnight.
Pointing to the X-rays, Haruno identified bullet fragments on the back of 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 during her testimony as she described her injuries, according to KABC.
Asked about Pete’s injuries, Haruno said he didn’t identify nerve damage but added that some small bullet fragments still remain in her feet because removing pieces so small could cause more damage.
He added that the metal objects that remain could be painful.
Neighbor who witnessed shooting from his home speaks out
According to police, there were four individuals present when the incident took place: Pete and another woman, Kelsey Harris, along with Lanez and his bodyguard Jaquan Smith, who was the driver that night.
Sean Kelly, who witnessed the alleged shooting from his home, testified that an individual he identified as Lanez fired shots but he also said he thought one of the women fired shots because he saw “flashes” near the Harris and Pete.
He said that he didn’t see a gun but saw Pete and Harris arguing and that the argument escalated and “got quite violent.”
He said on Monday that he “saw a muzzle flash” and then Lanez got out of the car after the initial flashes and then he saw more flashes.
He testified that Lanez was “firing everywhere” and appeared angry.
Harris and Pete were friends at the time of the shooting but have since been estranged, according to their court testimonies. Asked if Harris shot her, during her testimony, Pete said no. And asked if she was the shooter during her testimony, Harris also said “no.”
Key witness changes her story
Harris changed her story when she took the stand saying she doesn’t remember much of what happened that night, prompting questions about which account the jury will believe.
A key piece of evidence presented to the jury was a text message that Harris sent to Pete’s bodyguard at the time, Justin Edison, moments after the incident, saying, “Help Tory shot Meg 911.”
Asked about the message, Harris said that she was panicking when she sent it.
“I don’t know why I said that to Justin. I didn’t see anything happen,” Harris testified, according to KABC.
Harris initially corroborated details that pointed to Lanez as the alleged shooter in a September video interview with prosecutors. Harris also claimed in the interview that Lanez assaulted her and threatened to shoot her, but on the witness stand she said she doesn’t remember that happening.
“Some things that I stated back in September weren’t accurate,” Harris said on the witness stand.
When asked why her story changed, Harris told prosecutors that she was “protecting herself” but did not explain from what.
The 80-minute September video interview with Harris was played on Friday to the jury, who were able to hear her conflicting accounts.
Spiro told ABC News that this is a case of “convenient amnesia.”
Asked on the witness stand if Lanez offered Harris any money or favors after the incident, Harris said, “no,” and asked if the defense or anyone from Lanez’s team has tried to talk to Harris since the incident, she said, “no,” according to KABC.
ABC News reached out to attorneys for Harris and Lanez, but requests for comment were not returned.
Key witnesses fail to testify
Smith and Edison — two key witnesses who were asked to testify — did not appear in court and questions about their whereabouts were raised during the trial.
There is no indication that Smith was scheduled to testify and Spiro claimed in an interview with ABC News on Saturday that Smith has been “unreachable” throughout much of the case.
ABC News’ attempts to reach Smith have been unsuccessful and it is unclear if he has an attorney.
Asked about his whereabouts and whether he was subpoenaed, the LA County District Attorney’s office told ABC News, “We will not address matters involving potential witnesses as the trial is ongoing.”
Spiro claimed that Edison, who was scheduled to testify on Friday, did not show up and has been missing, prompting questions about his whereabouts which led the LA County DA to “look into his disappearance.”
Asked about Edison’s whereabouts and whether he was indeed unreachable, his attorney Laura Bell told ABC News on Monday that she has “no comment on this case.”