Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Seeking Retrial, Tory Lanez Hires Snoop Dogg and Suge Knight’s Defense Lawyer

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The lawyer who successfully defended Snoop Dogg in his 1996 murder trial is now representing Tory Lanez as the rapper launches a new legal team to fight his recent convictions in Los Angeles for the 2020 Hollywood Hills shooting of hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion.

Attorney David Kenner was in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on Tuesday to formalize his representation of Lanez, who has been behind bars since his Dec. 23 triple conviction for assault with a firearm, negligent discharge of a firearm, and possession of an unregistered firearm. Kenner was joined by attorney Matthew Barhoma, who specializes in criminal appeals.

A licensed attorney since 1968, Kenner takes over for Lanez’s former lawyer George Mgdesyan, who questioned all witnesses during the 10-day trial and then said that he was shocked the rapper was convicted on all counts. Attorney Shawn Holley also was representing Lanez but did not participate in his defense at the trial.

At Kenner’s request, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Herriford rescheduled Lanez’s sentencing from Jan. 27 to Feb. 28. The attorney plans to file a motion for a new trial that would toss Lanez’s three convictions; he told Herriford he’s currently awaiting transcripts from the first trial.

Prosecutors have agreed to the new Feb. 28 sentencing date, but Deputy District Attorney Kathy Ta said the office is keeping “a short leash” on that day; they are open to another continuance, depending on how soon the transcripts are ready, she said.

Kenner told reporters he knows the issues he’ll be raising in the motion but is not prepared to share them. 

“I look forward to litigating the motion for a new trial,” Kenner said, adding, “we’re very confident.”

Lanez was arrested on a firearm charge on July 12, 2020, after police responding to 911 calls stopped his driver’s Escalade at about 4:30 a.m. and found an unregistered gun inside the vehicle. Megan Thee Stallion, who was among those in the vehicle leaving a gathering at Kylie Jenner’s home, was later hospitalized with bullet wounds to her feet; she told police when the vehicle was stopped that she’d merely stepped on glass. The Grammy winner contacted authorities four days later, saying she’d actually been shot by Lanez as they were leaving a gathering in the early morning. 

Lanez attended the short hearing handcuffed and wearing orange jail garb and two long, white necklaces with crosses. He also wore a black cap designed to protect wave hairstyles as he stood and nodded confidently at his father, stepmother, and other supporters in the gallery before a bailiff led him out of the courtroom.

If his convictions stand, the 30-year-old, whose legal name is Daystar Peterson, faces nearly 23 years in prison. 

The motion for a new trial is a common step taken by criminal defense attorneys after a conviction but before an appeal is lodged with the California Court of Appeal. New trial motions typically encompass different issues than those considered by the appellate court, attorney Lee Stonun, who is not involved in Lanez’s case, told LAMag.

“Generally speaking, when a motion for a new trial is successful, it is based on something that the judge was not aware of during the trial. For instance, juror misconduct or evidence being withheld by the prosecution,” Stonum said. “It’s very rare to see a new trial motion granted based on the kinds of things that win appeals, such as erroneous admission of evidence or failure to exclude evidence because the motion is made in front of the judge who already made the evidentiary rulings.” 

Kenner has a long history of defending major players in the hip-hop world. After he represented Snoop Dogg, the rap superstar performed at his 80th birthday party—35 years later. Kenner told LAMag that he has a video of Snoop at the party saying, “Without David Kenner, there’d be no Snoop Dogg.” He also represented Death Row Records founder Suge Knight in a robbery case in the early 1990s and briefly represented the former music executive after he was charged with murder in 2015 for a fatal hit and run in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in Compton. Knight went on to plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter while represented by another attorney and is serving 28 years in prison.

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