With the rapper facing a potential 21-year prison sentence, his lawyers say the judge overseeing last year’s trial made some major mistakes.
Tory Lanez is reportedly demanding a new trial after being convicted last year of shooting Megan Thee Stallion in the foot, calling the guilty verdict a “miscarriage of justice.”
In a motion filed in Los Angeles court Wednesday, Lanez lawyers Jose Baez and Matthew Barhoma argued that Judge David Herriford made numerous errors during the two-week December trial that resulted in Lanez’s conviction, according to a report by Rolling Stone.
Among other arguments, Lanez’s attorneys said the judge should not have allowed jurors to see a key Instagram post from Lanez, which appeared to severely undermine the rapper’s central defense: that Stallion’s friend and assistant Kelsey Harris might been the one that actually pulled the trigger.
“The court erred on numerous questions of law in allowing the People to introduce this post, depriving defendant of a fair trial,” Lanez’ lawyers wrote in the motion, according to Rolling Stone’s report. “The only acceptable remedy for this miscarriage of justice is a new trial.”
Attorneys for Lanez and a representative for prosecutors did not immediately return a request for comment.
Lanez (real name Daystar Peterson) was convicted on Dec. 23 on three felony charges over the hotly-disputed July 2020 incident, in which the rapper allegedly shot Stallion in the foot during an argument after a pool party in the Hollywood Hills.
The shooting happened on the early morning of July 12, 2020, when Stallion, Lanez, Harris and a driver were traveling in an SUV following a party at Kylie Jenner’s house. According to prosecutors, after an argument broke out, Megan got out of the vehicle and began walking away, then Lanez shouted, “Dance, bitch!” and began shooting at her feet.
Immediately after the incident, Stallion initially told police officers that she cut her foot stepping on broken glass, but days later alleged that she had suffered a gunshot wound. Lanez was charged with the shooting in October 2022.
During the blockbuster trial, Lanez’s lawyers made their best effort to sow doubt over who pulled the trigger, painting a scenario in which Harris could have been the shooter. But a key defense witness offered only confusing eyewitness testimony, and prosecutors pointed to an interview in which Harris pinned the blame squarely on Lanez. Stallion herself offered powerful testimony that Lanez had been the one to shoot her; Lanez himself never took the witness stand.
At a sentencing currently scheduled for next month, Lanez faces up to 22 years in prison.
According to Rolling Stone’s report, Wednesday’s filing also cited California’s newly-enacted Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, a first-in-the-nation statute that aims to restrict when prosecutors can cite rap lyrics and other forms of creative expression as criminal evidence.
In the case of Lanez, his lawyers say prosecutors ran afoul of the new statute by showing jurors a shirtless photo of Peterson that revealed his tattoo of an AK-47 assault rifle, as well as by threatening to cite violent lyrics if he chose to testify in his own defense.
They argue that the use of that evidence violated the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act because it “painted defendant as a gun-wielding career criminal” and suggested to jurors that he had propensity for crime “based on his ‘gangster’ rapper persona.”
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