LA jury convicts Tory Lanez of shooting Megan Thee Stallion

LOS ANGELES — In a courtroom turned chaotic after a trial seething with tension, a Los Angeles jury on Friday found rapper Tory Lanez guilty of three felonies in the 2020 shooting death of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion. The attack left her wounded with bullet fragments in her feet, and Lanez’s conviction could send him to prison for more than 20 years.

Lanez, who was handcuffed and taken to jail while wearing a powder pink coat with matching pants, showed no visible reaction when the verdict was read.

But moments later, after the jury was escorted out, his father, Sonstar Peterson, jumped to his feet and shouted “This evil system stands condemned before God Almighty!” as deputies closed in on him.

Peterson then pointed at the two prosecutors and shouted “You two are evil, evil people. You know exactly what you did.”

With considerable effort, deputies wrestled him from the courtroom, where he was yelling in the hallway.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated since Thursday before convicting the 30-year-old Canadian rapper, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, of assault with a semi-automatic firearm, having a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.

Jurors also agreed there were aggravating factors in the attack, meaning Lanez could face up to 22 years in prison and deportation when sentenced on Jan. 25.

Three young children, including Lanez’s son, sat in the front row of the courtroom as the verdict was read. A young girl cried and was hugged by Lanez’s stepmother, who was also teary-eyed before she started shouting along with her husband.

Others in the audience shouted in agreement, and one woman shouted “we love you Tory” as he was led away.

Supporters of Megan and Lanez gathered outside the courthouse during most of the eight-day trial, crowding the courtroom and hallway. The scene was tense at times but remained largely peaceful until the verdict was read.

Megan Thee Stallion, whose legal name is Megan Pete, testified at trial that Lanez fired a handgun at the back of her feet and yelled for her to dance as she walked away from an SUV they had been driving in the Hollywood Hills in the summer of 2020. She said that the two had gotten into an argument that became particularly heated when she started insulting his music.

She needed surgery to remove bullet fragments from her feet.

After the verdict, her lawyer, Alex Spiro, said that “the jury got it right” and said he was “grateful that there is justice for Meg.”

Lanez’ lawyer George Mgdesyan said they were “shocked by the verdict.”

“There was insufficient evidence to convict Mr. Peterson,” Mgdesyan said in a statement. “We believe that this case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We will explore all options, including an appeal.”

The shooting set off a storm of cultural issues and arguments that peaked during the trial, including black victims’ reluctance to talk to the police, the protection of black women, gender politics in hip-hop, and online toxicity.

In closing arguments, the prosecution emphasized the courage it took for Megan to come forward and the vitriol the 27-year-old faced for it. They said she had no incentive to tell anything but the truth.

After the verdict, District Attorney George Gascón praised her.

“You showed incredible courage and vulnerability with your testimony despite repeated and grotesque attacks that you did not deserve,” Gascón said in a statement. “You faced unfair and despicable scrutiny that no woman should ever face.”

Lanez’s attorney claimed in his closing argument that the shots were actually fired by Megan’s then-best friend Kelsey Harris in a jealous fight over Lanez, who tried to stop the shooting. The lawyer, George Mgdesyan, argued that Megan created a more sympathetic narrative by pinning the shooting on Lanez.

“Megan Pete is a liar. She lied about everything in this case from the beginning, Mgdesyan said. “She lied under oath here.”

Harris denied being the shooter and previously identified Lanez as the one holding the gun. Her lawyer, in an email, declined to comment on her involvement.

Lanez began releasing mixtapes in 2009 and saw a steady rise in popularity, progressing 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 been rising ever since.

She won a Grammy for Best New Artist in 2021, had a No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with her own song “Savage” featuring Beyoncé, and guested on Cardi B’s “WAP.”

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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