LOS ANGELES – A California prosecutor told jurors Wednesday that hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion would never have subjected herself to the torrent of public abuse she's received if she wasn't telling the truth about rapper Tory Lanez shooting her in the feet and wounding her in the summer of 2020.
Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott said the jury should believe Megan’s anguish — evident in her testimony last week — and her courage in fighting through it. Jurors should also provide Megan with justice by convicting Lanez, he said, citing the scorn she received online and in parts of the hip-hop community.
“Why would she lie?” the Los Angeles County DA said. “She’s been subjected to a stream of hate. For what? For coming forward as a victim of domestic violence?”
In his own closing, Lanez’s defense attorney George Mgdesyan gave jurors what he called a perfectly good reason for Megan to lie: Being victimized by Lanez was a better public story than the embarrassing, potentially career-damaging truth that she was shot by her best friend — not Lanez —in a jealous dispute over him.
“Megan Pete is a liar. She lied about everything in this case from the beginning,” Mgdesyan said. “She lied under oath here.”
He said that Lanez actually struggled with Megan's former friend Kelsey Harris to stop her from shooting, and that a pause heard on an audio recording amid the five shots fired on the night of July 12, 2020 was evidence of that.
“He was trying to protect her,” Mgdesyan said.
Mgdesyan mocked Megan's experience in the years that followed.
“It's been so bad for her,” he said. "She's won Grammys. She's had number ones on the Billboard charts.
“You know who it's been bad for? That man right there,” Mgdesyan said, pointing at Lanez. “He hasn't been able to work. He's had to go through this with his family for 2 1/2 years.”
The Canadian rapper Lanez, 30, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, has pleaded not guilty to discharging a firearm with gross negligence, assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle. The counts could lead to up to 22 years in prison and deportation.
Bott said Megan’s testimony was in itself sufficient to convict, but it’s supported by layers of other evidence, including the accounts of other eyewitnesses and apologies from Lanez.
Megan testified that she left a gathering at the Hollywood Hills home of Kylie Jenner in an SUV with Lanez, his bodyguard and Harris. Megan and Harris have since become estranged.
She said a dispute broke out that led to her insulting Lanez's music, which made him especially angry. She testified that as she began walking away from the SUV, he fired at her feet and yelled, “dance, b----!”
Megan had to have surgery to remove bullet fragments.
When Harris took the stand, she said she didn't remember seeing Lanez shooting the gun, and that she only assumed he did when she sent a text minutes later saying “Tory shot Megan” to a man who worked as security for Megan. She denied shooting the gun herself.
But prosecutors were then allowed to play an interview Harris did with them in September, in which she clearly identified Lanez as the shooter.
In an email to The Associated Press, Harris' attorney Daniel Nardoni would not comment on her role, saying he urged her to invoke her 5th Amendment rights on the stand, despite partial immunity provided by prosecutors.
Mgdesyan asked jurors to weigh the likelihood of violence stemming from insulting someone's music or a dispute between two women over a man.
“What's more likely to lead to a shooting?” he said.
He told jurors it was clear Megan was lying because she denied being in a dispute of any significance with Harris, despite a defense witness who saw the stopped SUV from his nearby balcony and said he saw the two women in the car violently fighting. The witness, Sean Kelly, also testified that he saw muzzle flashes come from a woman as the shots were fired.
But prosecutors also used the testimony of the man, who said he saw a small man “firing everywhere."
Mgdesyan said Megan had changed over time to say she walked toward the front of the SUV rather than the back, so that it would match her description of Lanez firing at her from over the open car door. He said she invented the “dance, b----!” line, which no else testified to hearing, to explain why she was looking over her shoulder to see he was doing the shooting.
The lawyer used the image to joke about his client's size.
“He’s 5-foot-2, I don’t know if he can even get over a car to shoot!” Mgdesyan said, bringing a laugh from Lanez, who watched from the defense table in a blue suit and black turtleneck.
Mgdesyan told the judge earlier in the day that Lanez would not testify. The defense was set to finish its closings on Thursday, with the jury getting the case after the prosecution's rebuttal.
Bott ended his presentation Wednesday with a quote from Megan's testimony, in which she said there have been times that “I wish he would have just shot and killed me.”
“Megan does matter," Bott said. “This case matters. Hold him accountable for shooting Megan over nothing more than a bruised ego."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton