Why Tory Lanez’s Fate Comes Down to Megan Thee Stallion’s Testimony
Over eight days of testimony, the details of a fight between rappers Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez have unfurled in a Los Angeles courtroom. In 2020, Lanez allegedly shot Megan in the feet as an argument between the two escalated. At the time, Megan’s star was already on the rise, and the tabloid-ready circumstances–the altercation took place in Hollywood Hills after a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s home–helped fuel more than two years of combative discussion on social media. Megan’s career has scaled further heights in the years since the incident, and when she appeared at the trial last week to testify on behalf of the prosecution, supporters stood outside the courthouse with signs reading “I Stand With Megan.” Lanez has pleaded not guilty on the gun and assault charges he faces over the alleged shooting. On Wednesday, he declined to testify as his defense team rested its case.
Delivering his closing remarks on Wednesday, prosecutor Alexander Bott sought to refocus some of the chaos. “If you believe Megan and what she said last Tuesday, this case is over,” he told the jury, as Law & Crime reported. “We’re done. If you believe Megan, that’s enough.” Megan’s testimony last week largely echoed the account of the alleged shooting she has given on social media and in interviews. “Tory was basically telling me I wasn’t shit,” she told jurors, “and I said, ‘Actually, You ain’t shit. This is where you at in your career.” Megan claimed that as she exited the SUV they were in, Lanez said “Dance, bitch!” and began shooting at her.
The trial proceedings have sometimes been scattered and contradictory. Prosecutors said Megan’s former bodyguard Justin Edison would testify, but he never appeared, and authorities couldn’t track him down in time for the case’s conclusion. Megan’s former friend and assistant Kelsey Harris, who was present in the SUV on the night of the alleged shooting, testified that she never saw Lanez with a gun, but prosecutors played a recording of a statement she had previously made to them in which she said Lanez was the shooter. Lanez’s lawyer George Mgdesyan said in his opening statement that a romantic quarrel between Megan and Harris over Lanez ran parallel to arguments they had had over the rapper DaBaby and the Brooklyn Nets player Ben Simmons, but these purported conflicts didn’t come up in testimony.
In news reports, Megan’s own testimony rang the loudest, especially as it related to the backlash she said she received after going public with the alleged shooting. In his closing statement on Wednesday, Bott quoted from Megan’s testimony: “If I would have known that coming out and speaking my truth would come with people agreeing with me being shot, if I would have known, I would have started to lose my confidence.”
“Megan Pete is a liar,” Mgdesyan said during his closing statement on Wednesday, using the rapper’s birth name, according to Law & Crime. “She lied about everything in this case.” Mgdesyan asked why Megan hadn’t publicly shared that she’d had sex with Lanez. Citing the rapper’s Grammys and Billboard chart achievements, he said that Lanez had in fact gotten the worst of the backlash. “You know who it’s been bad for?” Mgdesyan said, pointing at Lanez. “That man right there.”
Mgdesyan acknowledged that Megan had been shot on the night in question, so he tried to sway jurors towards the theory that Harris was the shooter. He repeatedly pointed to Harris’s invocations of her Fifth Amendment rights, according to Law & Crime, as a way of arguing that she was covering for herself. Bott addressed Harris’s contradictory statements in his remarks on Wednesday: “Something happened to Kelsey.”
“Maybe she took one of those bribes,” he reportedly went on—a reference to Megan’s testimony last week that Lanez offered her and Harris $1 million not to say anything about the alleged shooting. (In her testimony, Harris denied taking a bribe.)
A jury began deliberating after the closing statements. Lanez faces more than 22 years in prison if convicted on all counts.