A judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday sentenced the Canadian musician Tory Lanez to 10 years in prison for shooting the rapper Megan Thee Stallion during an argument in 2020, the culmination of a case that polarized the music world, filled gossip pages and generated deeper discussion about violence against Black women.
“He not only shot me, he made a mockery of my trauma,” Megan Thee Stallion, the chart-topping artist born Megan Pete, wrote in a statement that was read in court on Monday, as supporters on both sides made their final pleas to the judge.
Megan Thee Stallion, who did not attend the sentencing because she said she could not be in the same room as Mr. Lanez, added, “This is a statement for all survivors that their lives matter and there is zero tolerance for the torture that accompanies violence.”
Prosecutors had sought a 13-year sentence for Mr. Lanez, born Daystar Peterson, arguing that he lacked remorse and was “clearly incapable of accepting any responsibility for his own actions.”
Mr. Lanez was convicted in December of three felony counts — assault with a semiautomatic handgun; carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle; and discharging a firearm with gross negligence — and the judge took into account two aggravating factors in the case, including that the victim was particularly vulnerable. Mr. Lanez faced a maximum of 22 years and eight months in prison. On Tuesday, he was credited with 305 days served already.
Lawyers for Mr. Lanez, 31, had argued for only probation, raising many mitigating factors through legal filings and court testimony, including abuse the musician suffered in childhood and his relationship to alcohol. Mr. Lanez’s “alcohol-use disorder, although not amounting to a defense, reduced his culpability,” his team said in a sentencing memo.
In court on Monday, Judge David Herriford of Los Angeles County Superior Court read aloud summaries of 76 supportive letters he received from Mr. Lanez’s allies and associates, including family members and the rapper Iggy Azalea. (Following some backlash, Ms. Azalea said in an online post that was later deleted that she had not known her comments would be made public, and that she believed in “reasonable punishments” and “prison reform.”)
The court also heard testimony, which continued into Tuesday, about Mr. Lanez’s character, philanthropic work and commitment to his young son. A lawyer for Mr. Lanez called the shooting “one bad evening in a lifetime of good deeds.”
The prosecution, on the other hand, framed the assault as “an act of misogyny” against Megan Thee Stallion. “This case was a violent shooting over a bruised ego,” Alexander Bott, a deputy district attorney, said.
Public details of the July 2020 assault evolved gradually via law enforcement accounts and social media posts, resulting in internet drama and finger-pointing before the case ever entered a courtroom.
Mr. Lanez was initially arrested and charged only with weapons possession following an encounter as he, Megan Thee Stallion and a friend were being driven home from a pool party at the reality star Kylie Jenner’s residence.
Megan Thee Stallion, who told responding officers that she had injured her feet by stepping on glass, said later that she had been on high alert after the police killing of George Floyd and was worried about how “snitching” on Mr. Lanez would affect her career as a rapper.
But following initial coverage of the case by hip-hop and celebrity blogs, as well as social media posts by Mr. Lanez, Megan Thee Stallion, 28, said she had been shot in both feet, requiring surgery, and named the rapper as her assailant on Instagram.
In court later, following more than a year of trading barbs with Mr. Lanez in songs and on social media, Megan Thee Stallion testified that he had fired at her several times after she left the vehicle during an argument about their brief romantic entanglement and respective careers.
Mr. Lanez “tried to position himself as a victim and set out to destroy my character and my soul,” Megan Thee Stallion wrote in her victim’s statement ahead of sentencing. “He lied to anyone that would listen and paid bloggers to disseminate false information about the case on social media. He released music videos and songs to damage my character and continue his crusade.”
Megan Thee Stallion said Mr. Lanez had privately apologized for the shooting, offering her and the friend with them that night, Kelsey Harris, a million dollars each to keep quiet.
At trial, the defense put forth a theory that Ms. Harris may have been the one to shoot Megan Thee Stallion out of jealousy, and Ms. Harris declined to identify Mr. Lanez as the gunman on the stand. But jurors also heard about earlier text messages from the aftermath of the shooting and an interview with detectives in which Ms. Harris corroborated Megan Thee Stallion’s story. The jury voted to convict Mr. Lanez following seven hours of deliberation.
Sentencing had originally been set for January but was rescheduled several times as Mr. Lanez hired new lawyers and sought a new trial. The musician’s legal team argued that some evidence shown during the trial, including Instagram posts, was prejudicial, but the judge denied that request in May.
Following that hearing, Mr. Lanez told the judge: “Please don’t ruin my life. I could be your son, I could be your brother.”
Lauren Herstik contributed reporting from Los Angeles.