A Los Angeles judge on Tuesday denied a motion for a new trial from lawyers for rapper Tory Lanez, who was convicted of three felonies in December for shooting hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion in the feet and wounding her.
Superior Court Judge 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.
As he was led from the courtroom back to jail after a hearing on the motion a day earlier, he pleaded with Herriford to help him, saying, “I could be your son. I could be your brother.”
Motions for a new trial with the same judge filed immediately afterward are a common precursor to appealing to a higher court, which Lanez’s attorneys 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 — which stated 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. They also said DNA evidence that prosecutors used to argue Lanez was the likely shooter fell well short of industry standards.
Lanez’s attorneys 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 Herriford permitted none of it, insisting instead on narrow legal arguments on the precise issues raised, the norm for such motions in California court.
They pleaded at length with Herriford to allow them to present their arguments in the way they had planned.
“I feel that I would be ineffective if we proceeded,” defense attorney 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 for trial after 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.
Mgdesyan said at trial that Megan was lying in her testimony and that Lanez had not pulled the trigger. He said afterward that there was not sufficient evidence for a conviction.
As had been the case 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.
No sentencing date has been set.
Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and saw a steady rise in popularity, allowing him to move on to major-label albums. Five of his six studio albums reached the top 10 on Billboard’s album 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.”