LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Closing arguments are expected to conclude Thursday in the trial of rapper Tory Lanez, who is charged in connection with the shooting of fellow rapper Megan Thee Stallion after an argument in the Hollywood Hills.
Attorneys began their closing arguments Wednesday -- with a prosecutor urging the jury to find Lanez guilty of wounding Megan Thee Stallion "over nothing more than a bruised ego," while the defense insisted the rapper didn't fire the gun at all, instead accusing Megan's then-gal pal of pulling the trigger in a jealous rage.
"This is a case about a guy who shot a girl, then apologized for it" in a tape-recorded call from jail hours later, Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott said in his closing argument.
"When Megan insulted his ability as an artist -- that's what set him off," the prosecutor said of Lanez.
However, in his summation, Lanez's defense attorney, George Mgdesyan, offered a very different narrative, telling the panel that Megan's then-best friend Kelsey Harris fired the gun after finding out that Lanez had slept with both women.
"This was about jealousy ... two woman that love a man and found out" that Lanez had been unfaithful to both of them, the defense attorney said. Harris is not charged in the case, but did testify.
The jury is due back in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom Thursday morning to hear the conclusion of closing arguments.
Earlier on Wednesday, Lanez declined the opportunity to testify in his own defense. Superior Court Judge David Herriford instructed jurors that Lanez -- whose real name is Daystar Peterson -- has an "absolute constitutional right not to testify" and that they are not to consider that for "any reason at all."
Lanez, 30, is charged with one count each of assault with a semiautomatic firearm, discharging a firearm with gross negligence and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle, along with allegations that he personally used a firearm and inflicted great bodily injury on Megan Thee Stallion, whose real name is Megan Pete.
In closings, Mgdesyan maintained that Megan created a fake story about the shooting for publicity reasons. The lawyer said it was a "better story" to say Lanez shot her, rather than her former friend.
"Megan Pete is a liar," the attorney said. "She lied about everything in this case from the beginning."
Bott, however, painted Megan as a truthful victim of Lanez who was injured physically and emotionally -- and said so both on the stand and in media interviews following the summer 2020 shooting.
Quoting from Megan's testimony, the prosecutor reminded the jury that the Texas-born rapper and songwriter was in an emotional state when she said, "I wish he would have just shot and killed me."
In a packed courtroom last week, Megan Thee Stallion testified that Lanez told her to "dance, bitch," and shot her in the feet following a July 12, 2020, get-together at Kylie Jenner's home. The entertainer said she had no doubt that Lanez fired the shots.
Megan Thee Stallion testified that Lanez offered her $1 million not to say anything and that he said he couldn't go to jail because he was already on probation -- the latter of which Mgdesyan told jurors was simply not the case.
She said she felt pain in both of her feet, but agreed to get back in the vehicle with Lanez and two other people, including Harris, after the shooting because she was wearing a thong bikini and felt like her manager would know what to do if she was able to get to him.
Megan Thee Stallion said the vehicle was stopped soon afterward by police, who ordered all of the occupants out, as her feet were still bleeding. She said she told police that she had stepped on glass when they began questioning her.
"At this time, we were at the height of police brutality with George Floyd," she said, adding that she didn't want to see anybody die and that it was "not really acceptable" in the Black community to cooperate with police.
Under cross-examination, the rapper said she initially had no intention of talking about what had happened and "didn't want to be a snitch" but felt she had to "defend my name" when she saw that people were "making up things" and suggesting that she had never been shot at all.
Bott told jurors during opening statements that Megan Thee Stallion had to undergo surgery after being shot in the feet following an argument in which she "insulted" Lanez's skills as a musical artist and demanded to be let out of the Cadillac Escalade in which the two were riding after leaving a get-together at Jenner's house.
She left a trail of blood behind her before eventually getting back into the vehicle, which was subsequently stopped by Los Angeles police, Bott said.
Within about five minutes of the shooting, a female friend who was with Megan Thee Stallion texted one of the rapper's security guards, "Help," "Tory shot meg," and "911," the prosecutor said, and police subsequently found the gun still warm to the touch on the floorboard near where Lanez had been seated, according to the prosecutor.
Lanez and the rapper's female friend, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, both later tested positive for gunshot residue, the deputy district attorney said.
Mgdesyan said it was a "case about jealousy," telling jurors that Megan and Harris had gotten into an argument while in the SUV and that a neighbor reported witnessing a fistfight between the women after the vehicle stopped on Nichols Canyon Road.
He questioned why Harris would have had gunshot residue on her if she wasn't the person who fired the shots and said police failed to test the gun to check if her DNA could be found on the weapon.
Harris testified that she didn't know who shot Megan Thee Stallion, didn't want to be involved in the case and denied receiving any "hush money" from Lanez. In a recorded interview subsequently played in court, Harris can be heard telling prosecutors that she saw Lanez shooting at his fellow rapper, but said he "did not say anything."
During cross-examination of Harris, the defense attorney asked if she was "aware that the defense theory was that you were the shooter." Harris, who was granted use immunity to testify during the trial, has maintained that she "did not" shoot her former best friend, for whom she was working at the time as a personal assistant.
In a video posted on Instagram Live following the shooting, Megan Thee Stallion said, "Tory shot me. You shot me and you got your publicist and your people are lying ... Stop lying."
In an op-ed published in The New York Times, she wrote that she was "recently the victim of an act of violence by a man" and that she was initially silent about what had happened "out of fear for myself and my friends."
"Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment," she wrote. "The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted."
The rapper gained fame in part through freestyling videos shared widely on Instagram. Her song "Savage" went viral on TikTok and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 2020, while her provocative collaboration with Cardi B on "WAP" garnered her more attention.
In a posting last year on Twitter, Lanez wrote, "I have all faith in God to show that ... love to all my fans and people that have stayed true to me & know my heart ... a charge is not a conviction."
If convicted as charged, the "Alone at Prom" rapper would face up to 22 years and eight months in prison and possible deportation back to his native Canada.