A Los Angeles judge has denied a motion for a new trial from lawyers for rapper Tory Lanez, who was convicted of three charges in December for shooting hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion in the feet and wounding her.
Superior Court Judge David Herriford rejected arguments from lawyers for Lanez that evidence was wrongly admitted at the trial he presided over. He said that the exclusion of the disputed evidence would not have made a difference at the trial.
Lanez, 30, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, will now be sentenced for convictions of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, having a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence. He could get up to 22 years in prison and faces deportation to his native Canada.
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As he was led from the court back to jail after a hearing on the motion a day earlier, he pleaded with Judge Herriford to help him, saying: “I could be your son. I could be your brother.”
Motions for a new trial filed immediately afterwards with the same judge are a common precursor to appealing to a higher court, which Lanez’s lawyers plan to do. The motions are rarely successful.
Lanez’s lawyers asserted that a post from his Instagram account was improperly admitted into evidence.
They said that Megan’s testimony that Lanez urged her not to go to police because he was on parole and would be in serious trouble was both untrue and an improper allowance of prior bad acts. And they said DNA evidence that prosecutors used to argue Lanez was the likely shooter fell well short of industry standards.
Lanez’s lawyers were disappointed from the start of Monday’s all-day oral arguments on their motion. They had an elaborate presentation prepared, complete with audio-visuals and witnesses, but the judge refused to allow it, insisting instead on narrow legal arguments on the precise issues raised.
“I feel that I would be ineffective if we proceeded,” defence lawyer Jose Baez said. “Mr Peterson has the right to due process for which he is entitled.”
They moved on under protest, and later filed a motion to have the judge disqualified. Lanez’s lawyers, who did not represent him at trial, said the attorney who did, George Mgdesyan, made mistakes in his case because he was given so little time to prepare before trial when the rapper’s previous attorney dropped out.
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.
Mr Mgdesyan said at trial that Megan was lying in her testimony, and Lanez had not pulled the trigger. He said afterwards that there was not sufficient evidence to convict.
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. No sentencing date has been set.
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 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with her own song Savage, featuring Beyonce, and as a guest on Cardi B’s WAP.