Rapper Tory Lanez’s own defense witness identified him as a gunman that night Megan Thee Stallion was shot, saying he was “firing everywhere” — but that the flashes he saw originated with a woman.
“How many shots did you see the short guy shoot when you said, ‘he was firing everywhere?” asked Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott in cross-examination, referring to the 5-foot-3 Lanez.
“Four or five,” he answered Sean Kellya Hollywood Hills homeowner who called 911 to report a group beating a woman about 4:25 am on July 12, 2020, after waking up to noises outside.
The commotion turned out to be a melee that became a huge source of contention in the hip-hop world, and Kelly took the witness stand Tuesday as the only testifying eyewitness beyond Megan and her now-former friend Kelsey Nicole Harris. The shooting injured Megan’s feet, and surgeons removed bullet fragments from one foot while tiny parts still remain inside each.
Kelly had been touted by Lanez’s lawyer George Mgdesyan as a key defense witness, and his early testimony largely matched what Mgdesyan told jurors in his Dec. 12 opening statement: That Kelly saw a woman seated where Harris was in the Escalade exit the vehicle and fight violently with a woman in the front seat. He saw a flash and believed it originated from one of the women.
“They were pulling their hair and hitting each other. It was quite violent,” Kelly said.
But Kelly’s testimony took a confusing turn as Kelly, who said he was at the time traumatized and more concerned with his son, also said the muzzle flash occurred “about the same time that the smallest individual got out of the car.”
It was a clear reference to Lanez, and Kelly didn’t stop there, saying the man “got out about that time, all shouting” and “I saw more flashes.” The driver, dressed in black clothing, was involved in the fight, and Kelly said the short man “was very angry, he was making lots of noise.”
“I believe I saw the girl shoot first,” Kelly said. But he emphasized that he didn’t know she had a gun at the time and “believed it was fireworks.”
“I said that they were both shooting,” Kelly said.
Mgdesyan asked who was the first shooter.
“The girl,” Kelly said. But, “they were all fighting,” and the shorter guy “was pushing and fighting both girls.”
That’s when Mgdesyan asked Kelly, “Sir, did you see the shorter guy with a gun in his hand?” and Kelly answered, “Yes.”
Kelly said everyone started beating one girl, and “to me, it appeared that they were going to throw her in the river.”
“It appeared to me when I was on the phone that they were trying to kill her,” Kelly said.
He expanded in cross-examination, saying he saw the woman on the ground “kicking all the time” after the shorter man “was, like I said, shooting.”
“She was crawling and stumbling across the road,” Kelly said. The short man was yelling “just a torrent of abuse,” although he also said he didn’t hear Lanez say, “Dance, bitch,” like Megan said he did.
Bott asked Kelly what the short guy was saying, telling him, “There’s no censorship in the courtroom.”
Kelly, a white man with a British accent, answered, “It was all N-words” and “m-fer” profanities.
“And this was directed at the victim?” Bott asked.
“All of them…He was going crazy. Was really agitated,” Kelly answered.
Still, he testified again: “I believe the girl fired the first shot.” He also said “I see what appears to be the girl shooting into the car,” although the Escalade at issue was not bullet ridden when police stopped it minutes later on Hollywood Boulevard. Kelly also said he’s “not sure at all if the girl was shooting a gun that night” and emphasized throughout his time on the witness stand that he never actually saw anyone with a gun.
“He was holding something and it flashed and made a loud noise like a gun,” Kelly said.
Bott later complained to Judge David Herriford that after his cross-examination of Kelly, Mgdesyan told him, “Keep smirking, and see what happens.”
Bott called the remark “vastly inappropriate” and said Mgdesyan has been “conducting himself in an unprofessional manner” the entire trial, including muttering under his breath. Mgdesyan called Bott “stupid” and an “idiot” — as well as something more offensive — during a discussion in Judge Herriford’s decision. The judge declined Bott’s request to admonish Mgdesyan and instead moved into jury instructions.
The case’s lead investigator, Los Angeles police Detective Ryan Stognertestified later in the day that Kelly “specifically said he couldn’t tell who was holding the weapon.”
Stogner also spoke with Megan four days after the shooting, when she first reported she had been shot after initially saying she’d stepped on glass.
Stogner said Megan did not specifically mention George Floyd, who’d been murdered less than two months before the shooting. But “she had mentioned something to the effect of ‘because police were shooting Black people,’ she was afraid,” Stogner added.
The last witness on Tuesday was Randy Zepedaa Los Angeles police criminologist who prosecutors called to receive testimony from Lanez’s DNA expert.
When asked if he agrees with the expert’s testimony that firing a gun five times would leave DNA behind, Zepeda answered: “Yes and no.”
“There is also a possibility that you won’t leave anyone behind,” Zepeda testified. Zepeda also said he disagrees with the defense expert’s testimony that one of the four DNA profiles on the gun has to be female.
One big issue remains before closing arguments begin Tuesday: Will Lanez testify?
Bott said Tuesday that if he does, he plans to question him about a music video in which he’s “butchering horse feet, clearly directed at Megan.” He was referring to the video for Lanez’s rap CHAP, which Megan lamented in her own testimony last week. Bott also referenced social media posts and a lyric that says Megan is lying. He also wants to ask him about an assault on Love and Hip Hop star Prince in Florida that Lanez resolved shortly before trial, and a recent alleged assault against singer August Alsina.
Mgdeysan said he opposed any questions about rap lyrics, citing recent case law in California, but Judge Herriford said anything pertaining to this case is “fair game.”
“If your client testifies, I have to take it on a case-by-case basis,” Herriford said.
Herriford is expected to ask Lanez Wednesday morning if he is going to testify. Closing arguments will follow.
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