A prosecutor on Wednesday urged jurors to convict rapper Tory Lanez for allegedly shooting Megan Thee Stallion “over nothing more than a bruised ego,” beginning and ending his 75-minute closing argument with the three-time Grammy-winning artist’s own trial testimony while calling her “a victim of domestic violence.”
“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,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott said, quoting an excerpt from Megan’s Dec. 13 testimony that also was displayed for the jury.
Bott told jurors that “after more than two years of this torture,” Lanez must be convicted of assault with a firearm, carrying an unregistered concealed firearm and negligent discharge of a firearm, and he reminded them they can convict based on one person’s testimony alone.
“If you believe Megan and what she said last Tuesday, this case is over. We’re done. If you believe Megan, that’s enough,” Bott said. He added that Megan had her guard up when she began testifying in the morning, but after the lunch break, “those walls came down,” and “I think everybody in this courtroom felt something that day.”
“This is the critical question in this case: Was Meg telling the truth that afternoon?” Bott asked. “I think everybody in this courtroom knows the answer to that question.”
But jurors have far more to go on than Megan’s testimony, he said, citing an apologetic phone call Lanez made to Megan’s now-former friend Kelsey Nicole Harris from jail. Bott said he and his co-counsel Deputy District Attorney Kathy Ta can’t find a way to interpret it as anything other than Lanez apologizing for shooting at Megan, reading lines from a transcript of the call such as “I was just so fucking drunk” and “I just didn’t understand what was going on” and “I never did that shit if I wasn’t that drunk.”
“There is nothing in that call to implicate Kelsey did anything other than try to help her best friend,” Bott said. He also referenced texts Lanez sent Megan at 8:59 p.m. the day of the shooting that said in part, “I genuinely want u to know I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
“He’s apologizing to Megan for shooting five rounds at her from a semi-automatic,” Bott said.
Jury Deliberations Expected to Begin Thursday
Jurors will return to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Herriford‘s courtroom on Thursday for the end of argument from Lanez’s lawyer George Mgdesyan. The defense attorney told the jury on Wednesday that Lanez is falsely accused and that Harris is the one who fired five rounds in Megan’s direction early on July 12, 2020, in the Hollywood Hills as Lanez, Megan and Harris were driven from a gathering at reality star Kylie Jenner‘s home.
He prefaced his argument with a proclamation: “This is an unfortunate case. Somebody got shot. Megan Pete got shot,” he added, using Megan’s legal name.
Mgdeysan emphasized that he’s not denying Megan was shot. But he urged jurors to also consider what Lanez has been through the last two years.
“My client is being falsely accused. Megan Pete is a liar. She lied about everything in this case,” Mgdesyan told the jury, repeatedly asking why Megan didn’t publicly disclose sooner that she’d had sex with Lanez.
“How do you believe anything Megan Pete says, ladies and gentlemen? And keep in mind reasonable doubt,” Mgdesyan said.
He also questioned how much Megan has truly suffered, citing her Grammys and her being “number one on Billboard” but somehow she wants the jury to believe “it’s been so bad for her.”
“You know who it’s been bad for? That man right there,” Mgdesyan said, pointing at Lanez as he sat at the defense table.
Mgdesyan said Lanez’s apologetic phone call from jail to Harris was not about the shooting but about the romantic quarrel that caused it, and repeatedly referenced Judge Herriford’s decision to allow Harris to invoke her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and prosecutors’ decision to grant her immunity when arguing she was trying to hide her criminality.
‘Those Are The Actions of a Best Friend’
Bott had earlier detailed evidence that he says indicates Harris was acting not as a guilty assailant but as a best friend after Megan was shot, including three text messages she sent Megan’s now-former bodyguard minutes after the gunfire that said, “Help” “Tory shot meg” “911.” Bott said that would constitute “framing the defendant within five minutes” under Mgesyan’s argument that Harris is the one who shot Megan.
Bott also referenced blood stains on Harris that show Megan was propping her injured and bleeding feet on her then-friend before Los Angeles police, responding to 911 calls, pulled over the Escalade and ordered everyone out at gunpoint. He also referenced a police body camera video that includes Harris asking Megan if she’s OK.
“Those are the actions of a best friend. That’s how a best friend would react upon seeing their best friend shot,” Bott said. He said the women’s broken friendship is “a sad story,” but it’s not rooted in the shooting, it’s rooted in its aftermath.
“It was like a really bad game of telephone between Megan and Kelsey where they just weren’t communicating,” Bott said. “It got out of hand.”
The prosecutor also addressed Harris’ testimony that she never saw Lanez with a gun and that she made false statements to prosecutors during a recorded interview, saying, “Something happened to Kelsey.”
“Something spooked her. Something got to her. Maybe she took one of those bribes,” Bott said, referencing testimony that Lanez offered $1 million if the women wouldn’t say anything.
While she vividly remembered mundane details about that night, “she had courtroom amnesia” regarding Lanez’s conduct, Bott said, despite a seemingly candid interview with prosecutors in September that was played for the jury in full after Mgdesyan repeatedly implied in his questioning of Harris that prosecutors had improperly pressured her.
Still, Bott said Harris wouldn’t go so far as to implicate herself on the witness stand in an effort to save Lanez.
‘Kelsey Has Been Compromised’
Bott acknowledged he told the jury in his opening statement that Megan’s former bodyguard Justin Edison would testify, and he didn’t, but he referenced Harris’ witness stand appearance when suggesting Edison intentionally dodged the trial.
“We saw Kelsey has been compromised in this very courtroom,” Bott said. But he drew the jury’s attention to something Mgdesyan said in his opening that didn’t play out in testimony, regarding Megan and Harris’ alleged shared interest in rapper DaBaby and Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons.
“What does that have to do with this case? Was that just to shame the girls?” Bott asked, referring to the women.
Bott cited Megan’s testimony that she was uncomfortable on the stand because she had to sit in the same room as people who “continuously spread misinformation to make me look like a bad person” and because “I have to sit next to Tory.” The testimony was displayed for jurors alongside a photo of the rapper, including one with the testimony quote, “It feels like every man with a position of power in the music industry, even people who are not even rappers, they never even cared about what my side of the story was,” which Bott read aloud.
“Look what coming forward has done to her life and her career and reputation,” Bott told the jury. “You think she wants to be here?”
Bott also drew attention to defense witness Sean Kelly‘s testimony that Lanez was “firing everywhere” and fired “four to five” rounds at a woman then hurled “a torrent of abuse,” and he urged jurors not to focus on what happened at Jenner’s party. Mgdesyan, however, said the conflict at Jenner’s helps jurors understand how heated conflict that embroiled the women when he argues Harris shot Megan, because Jenner ordered Megan to leave after a conflict over Lanez.
“Do you really believe that Megan Pete wasn’t upset that my client was in the pool with Kylie? Do you really believe that?” Mgdesyan asked the jury.
He acknowledged that Lanez “may have outed his relationship with Megan to Kelsey” and that Megan and Lanez “were really close. They’d been hooking up. They’d been seeing a lot of each other.”
But Bott said what ultimately led to Lanez firing the handgun was “when Meg assaulted the defendant’s abilities as an artist.” He also asked why Megan would lie about Lanez shooting her after initially telling police she hadn’t been shot, even though she was hospitalized with bullet shrapnel in her feet and underwent surgery. He displayed photos of her injured feet that drew murmurs from the gallery.
There was a light moment for Lanez when Mgdesyan referenced his height, saying he’s “what, 5-foot-2?” when questioning Megan’s testimony and Kelsey’s statement to prosecutors that Lanez was shooting over the Escalade’s door.
“I don’t even know if he can get over the door to shoot,” Mgdesyan said, as Lanez chuckled at the defense table.
Judge Herriford ordered the jury to return Thursday at 9:45 a.m.
(Image: Photo by Meghann M. Cuniff/Law&Crime)
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