Prosecutors cite ‘high level of callousness’ in Tory Lanez’s shooting of Megan Thee Stallion
A new filing describes Megan as a “particularly vulnerable” victim while laying out aggravating circumstances for the judge to consider when he sentences Lanez.
Prosecutors say Tory Lanez “demonstrated a high level of callousness” when he fired five rounds at Megan Thee Stallion “without any justifiable provocation or reason,” and he deserves more time in prison because of it.
“Victim was dressed in only a bikini, shoeless and on foot in a neighborhood completely foreign to her. It was late at night. She was unarmed and completely defenseless,” according to a new filing Tuesday from Deputy District Attorneys Kathy Ta and Alex Bott. They say Lanez “posed a significant danger to everyone (witnesses and neighbors) in the vicinity of this shooting.”
“The brazenness of Defendant’s conduct is alarming but the conscious disregard for the well-being and safety of all those around him signifies a high degree of indifference for human life,” according to the five-page motion.
Prosecutors are asking Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Herriford to conclude that three circumstances aggravate Lanez’s crimes and warrant a longer prison sentence: 1) Lanez’s callousness and the great bodily harm he caused Megan 2) His use of of a semi-automatic firearm and 3) Megan’s vulnerability as a victim.
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The motion does not recommend a specific number of years in prison. That recommendation will be made in a more expansive memorandum that prosecutors expect to file by June 6.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 13. Legal name Daystar Peterson, 30-year-old Lanez has been in jail without bond since Dec. 23 after a jury convicted him of first-degree assault with a firearm, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence and having a concealed firearm in a vehicle - unregistered.
If Judge Herriford agrees with prosecutors'’ recommended aggravating factors, he’ll legally be able to sentence Lanez to more than the middle range of the maximum, which is 22 years and 8 months in prison.
Without aggravating factors, California judges are required under a new state law to impose a sentence no longer than the middle range.
State law also requires a jury find aggravating factors to be true before a judge can apply them at sentencing.
The jurors that convicted Lanez found true the great bodily harm and firearm circumstances. Prosecutors did not ask them to find that Megan was a vulnerable victim, so Tuesday’s motion presents her vulnerability only as a circumstance supporting the bodily harm and firearm aggravating factors.
Prosecutors cite trial testimony when describing what happened on July 12, 2020, about 4:25 a.m. when Lanez opened fire after he, Megan, Megan’s now-former friend Kelsey Harris and Lanez’s driver left a gathering at reality star Kylie Jenner’s Hollywood Hills home. Harris told prosecutors that she and Megan were in Los Angeles because Megan was filming the music video for the song “WAP” with Cardi B. Lanez and Megan were close friends at the time and had been “hooking up,” as Bott said in his closing argument.
“Defendant shouted at Victim to ‘Dance Bitch’, pointed a gun at her and fired multiple rounds, striking both of her feet. Defendant was upset that Victim had insulted his music career. Without any justifiable provocation or reason, Defendant fired several rounds at Victim in the middle of a residential neighborhood during the late evening hours,” according to the motion, misstating the time of day. “Victim suffered gunshot wounds to both of her feet and was bleeding profusely. Bullet fragments penetrated both of her feet. Victim was placed under general anesthesia and the fragments were removed during surgery.”
The motion describes how surgeons removed a large bullet fragment from a one-and-a-half centimeter wound in Megan’s right foot and two fragments from a four-by-four centimeter wound in her left foot. Megan’s injuries and surgery “would produce permanent scarring to both of her feet,” and small shrapnel and fragments that couldn’t be removed without possibly harming her further “are now permanently embedded in her feet.”
The motion cites the assistant surgeon’s testimony that Megan could have suffered an infection if she hadn’t gone under the knife.
“Victim went through physical therapy for several months, received stitches and was in significant pain,” prosecutors wrote. “Victim testified that she continues to suffer from nerve damage and experience soreness, particularly when she has to perform as part of her work.”
The great bodily harm aggravating factor can involve callousness, and prosecutors say Lanez’s crimes show “a high level of callousness.”
“As victim began to walk away from Defendant wearing only a bikini and no shoes, Defendant mocked Victim with ‘Dance Bitch’ as [he] opened fire in her direction. With no justifiable reason, Defendant fired not just one but up to five rounds in the direction of Victim in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” prosecutors wrote.
Regarding the firearm aggravator, prosecutors motion reminds Herriford that “immediately after the shooting, the gun was found at [Lanez’s] feet, warm to the touch and in a slide lock position, indicating Defendant had fired every round from that gun.”
Regarding Megan’s vulnerability as a victim, prosecutors cite two 1979 California Courts of Appeal decisions that say the legal term “particularly vulnerable” is not limited to personal characteristics such as age or disability but can include victims who are in other ways defenseless, unguarded or unprotected. One case involved “a healthy police officer with firearms within reach” qualifying as particularly vulnerable after he was shot twice from the backseat of his squad car.
In Megan’s situation, in addition to being shoeless and in a bikini, she didn’t have her phone or any other belongings when she walked away from Lanez “unaware he was armed with a firearm,” according to the motion.
“She was afforded no opportunity and was in no position to defend herself, find cover, or shield herself in anyway. Besides an argument in the car, there was no justifiable provocation or event that would have signaled to her that Defendant would have fired a gun at her, not just once but five times. Victim was taken entirely by surprise. Given the surrounding circumstances, she was particularly vulnerable.”
Prosecutors filed the motion Tuesday in accordance with a schedule set by Judge Herriford on May 10 after he rejected Lanez’s motion for new trial.
Prosecutors have said they expect Megan to submit a victim impact statement in some form, which could be in person or in writing. Her only public comment about the case since Lanez’s conviction was a recent cover story for Elle magazine. She’s become more active on social media in recent months and is scheduled to perform at LA Pride in the Park in Los Angeles on June 9.
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