Prosecutors tried added two new allegations of witness tampering to Tory Lanez’s felony trial on Monday, but was halted by the judge who said they had waited too long.
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Kathy Ta filed her motion Monday for the new charges, citing California Penal Code 136.1 making it a crime to attempt to dissuade a witness.
“It is based on testimony from both the victim and Ms. (Kelsey) Harris,” about “statements the defendant made in the car and offered them a million dollars” to keep quiet about the July 12 shooting that left Megan wounded in both feet hit. 2020, Ta told the court.
Judge David Herriford responded by asking why prosecutors waited so long since Megan made the underlying allegation early in the case. Ta said she wasn’t sure how Harris would testify, but given that she seemed to corroborate Megan’s claim during her turn on the witness stand, they decided to file the alleged “$1 million bribe.”
Lanez’s attorney, George Mgdsyan, objected Monday, saying prosecutors had known since September what Harris’s testimony was likely to be, and the court agreed. Herriford said the late addition put the defense in a “difficult position” in terms of planning and response time.
“I think it’s unfair at this point, so I would deny that motion,” the judge said.
Lanez, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson and is a citizen of Canada, pleaded not guilty to three felony counts in the high-profile case, including assault with a firearm causing grievous bodily harm; concealing a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle; and the recently added count of firing a firearm with gross negligence.
If convicted as charged, the Alone at the ball rapper faces 22 years and eight months in prison and subsequent deportation.
Earlier on Monday, prosecutors were unable to find a key witness and asked the court for an extra day to argue their case or for permission to reopen their presentation after the defense rests. Although the witness was not named, a source said Rolling stone that prosecutors were referring to Megan’s former bodyguard Justin Edison.
Over the weekend, Alex Spiro, Megan’s attorney, said Edison was “missing” before giving his expected testimony in the case. “He was ready to testify. He’s someone who’s always plugged in, on the net, responsive, and while he’s about to testify in a case of violence, he goes missing,” Spiro said.
In his opening statement last week, Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott told jurors that Edison would take the stand, stating that he visited Lanez’s home a day after the shooting and heard the rapper confess to being the trigger man.
“As the court can see, a lot of research has been done on this witness,” Ta argued Monday, asking for more time.
Judge Herriford indicated he would allow prosecutors not to rest their case while they searched for their witness. “Okay, let’s see how far we can get,” he said.
Prosecutors then recalled two previous witnesses before handing over the reins to Peterson’s defense. LAPD Officer Sandra Cabral returned to the stands first to show police bodycam footage showing the police after the shooting. Judges saw video of Harris being handcuffed, crying and asking, “Megan, are you okay?” as Megan stumbled off to an ambulance, also handcuffed.
Cabral said she didn’t see Tory Lanez’s “posture” when he was handcuffed and standing head down, facing a wall.
During cross-examination, attorney George Mgdesyan asked if Cabral remembered also hearing Lanez express concern about Megan, saying, “Meg-o, you’ll be fine, okay?” Prosecutors objected to the question and the judge agreed it was inappropriate, so the officer did not answer.
Prosecutors then recalled a DA investigator to ask about the alleged diss track aimed at Megan that Harris released in November 2020 titled “Bussin Back.” They highlighted the lyrics, “You know it wasn’t me” and “All you had to do was clear your best friend’s name,” apparently to further counter the defense theory that Harris could be the shooter.
Mgdesyan later called Megan’s former stylist Eric Culberson to the stands to testify about the party he attended at Kylie Jenner’s house with Megan, Harris and Peterson prior to the shooting.
Culberson, known professionally as EJ King, corroborated Harris’s earlier testimony that Megan and Harris left Jenner’s house alone in a Cadillac Escalade with Peteron’s driver before reportedly returning to pick up Peterson a short time later. When she testified last week, Megan said she didn’t leave the party until she could convince Peterson to join her.
The stylist also said he never heard Megan or Harris claim Tory was carrying a gun and at no point did he see a firearm on the night of the alleged shooting.