Canadian Rapper Tory Lanez Seeks New Trial

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Three months after he was put behind bars for the 2020 shooting of Megan Thee Stallion, Canadian rapper Tory Lanez filed a motion Wednesday for a new trial.

The 30-year-old Ontario native, whose real name is Daystar Peterson, was found guilty just before Christmas of assault with a firearm, carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm and discharging a firearm with gross negligence.

Lanez, who has been in custody at the Men’s Central Jail in L.A. since the verdict, faces up to 22 years and eight months in prison and deportation to Canada. His sentencing was originally set for Jan. 27 but was pushed to Feb. 28 and then to April 10 to allow his new lawyers to review materials.

Those lawyers, Jose Baez and Matthew Barhoma, argue the judge “impermissibly chilled” Lanez’s right to testify in his own defence by ruling that prosecutors could introduce his lyrics and a bloody 2022 music video (for “Cap”) during cross-examination. (A California law barring “creative expression” evidence at trials came into effect nine days after Lanez was convicted.)

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They also claim prosecutors ambushed the defence at trial with a September 2020 Instagram post that appeared to show Lanez admitting that Megan’s then-friend Kelsey Harris was not the one who fired the gun. (Lanez’s defence was that it was Harris who fired – a claim both she and Megan denied.)

Baez and Barhoma said the judge should not have allowed the jury to see the post because the defence did not have time to show who made the comment. Their motion for a new trial includes a statement from content creator Joshua Farias, who claims he was managing Lanez’s account at the time.

"The only acceptable remedy for this miscarriage of justice is a new trial,” reads the motion, which also alleges that prosecutors unfairly portrayed Lanez as “a gun-wielding career criminal” and drew attention to an AK-47 tattoo on his chest. They claim his “gangster rapper persona” was used to suggest a “criminal propensity.”

Lanez’s tattoo, the lawyers argue, was an homage to the late rap icon Tupac Shakur. “Mr. Shakur used his music and tattoos to discuss socio-political issues affecting the Black community in the nineties,” they wrote. “Mr. Shakur carried the same AK-47 tattoo on his chest as a symbol of Black unity and the fight against racism.”

A hearing on the motion is set for April 10, meaning Lanez’s sentencing will likely be delayed again.

Lanez was charged on Oct. 8, 2020 with assault with a firearm and carrying a loaded and unregistered firearm. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said, in a release: “On July 12, the defendant and [Stallion] got into an argument while riding in an SUV in the Hollywood Hills. The victim exited the vehicle and Peterson is accused of shooting several times at her feet and wounding her." He pleaded not guilty in November 2020.

Just before his trial began, Lanez was hit with an additional charge of discharging a firearm with gross negligence.