A Los Angeles judge Tuesday rejected a bid for a new trial for jailed rapper Tory Lanez, who was convicted of shooting hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion in the feet three years ago in the Hollywood Hills.
Lanez’s current attorney, Jose Baez argued Monday that procedural errors, prosecutorial misconduct, discovery violations and ineffective counsel led to his client’s conviction in December on one felony count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, having a loaded unregistered firearm in a vehicle, and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
But back in court on Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Herriford denied the motion for a new trial.
“The court finds no error, prosecutorial misconduct or newly discovered evidence,” Herriford said. “Motion denied.”
A new sentencing date for the 30-year-old Canadian rap star, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, has been set for June 13, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Lanez is facing up to 22 years and eight months in prison.
During a hearing Monday, Baez said Lanez’s former trial attorney, George Mgdesyan, did not have enough time to prepare for trial and ultimately “failed” Lanez.
The rapper’s defense during the 10-day trial in downtown Los Angeles “was a jumbled, bungled mess,” Baez said.
Baez and co-counsel Matthew Barhoma filed their motion for a new trial last month, arguing that certain evidence presented at trial and certain witness statements were prejudicial to their client, including an Instagram post and a photo of Lanez’s gun tattoo.
In a posting on Instagram last month, Lanez insisted he was “wrongfully convicted” of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in July 2020.
“Today I take a stance as an innocent Black man, wrongfully convicted of a crime I did not commit,” Lanez said in the Instagram post addressed to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón.
“We have full faith and confidence in our trial team and are pleased with the court’s ruling in the matter,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement following the judge’s ruling.
Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, was convicted on Dec. 23, 2022, for shooting and injuring Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, in an incident in the Hollywood Hills on July 12, 2020. The rapper is facing up to 22 years and 8 months in prison.
He was initially set to be sentenced in January, but the sentencing has been delayed several times after he obtained new attorneys.
Lanez was found guilty by a jury on all three felony counts filed against him – assault with a semi-automatic firearm (personal use of a firearm), carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.
This case sparked intense debates over society’s treatment of women, and Pete’s account of the incident and the intense public vitriol she faced after sharing her story has spotlighted the Protect Black Women movement, which addresses the two-front battle of sexism and racism Black women experience in their own communities and in society at large.
Pete, who testified during the trial and named Lanez as her shooter, broke her silence on the shooting following the trial in an interview for her May 2023 Elle Magazine cover story.
“I don’t want to call myself a victim,” she said. “As I reflect on the past three years, I view myself as a survivor, because I have truly survived the unimaginable. Not only did I survive being shot by someone I trusted and considered a close friend, but I overcame the public humiliation of having my name and reputation dragged through the mud by that individual for the entire world to see.”
Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, testified that Lanez fired a handgun at the back of her feet and shouted for her to dance as she walked away from an SUV in which they had been riding in the Hollywood Hills in the summer of 2020.
Mgdesyan said at trial that Megan was lying in her testimony, and Lanez had not pulled the trigger. He said afterward that there was not sufficient evidence to convict.
As it was throughout the trial, the courtroom was full of media and Lanez’s fans and family members, with many more outside in the hallway.
The shooting, and the trial, set off a storm of cultural issues and arguments that peaked during the trial, including the reluctance of Black victims to speak to police, the protection of Black women, gender politics in hip-hop, and online toxicity.
After the verdict was read in December, Lanez’s father, Sonstar Peterson, stood and denounced “the wicked system” that led to his son’s conviction and had to be wrestled from the courtroom.
Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and saw a steady rise in popularity, moving on to major-label albums. His last two reached the top 10 on Billboard’s charts.
Megan Thee Stallion was already a major rising star at the time of the shooting, and her prominence has surged since. She won a Grammy for best new artist in 2021, and she had No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with her own song “Savage,” featuring Beyoncé, and as a guest on Cardi B’s “WAP.”
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