NEW YORK, N.Y. – When rapper G. Dep turned himself in nearly two decades after a shooting, he told police he wanted to clear his conscience.
He found out Tuesday what the consequences would be: 15 years to life in prison, the minimum term for his murder conviction. A judge, prosecutors and the jury foreman said he deserved credit for coming forward when he’d never been suspected in the long-cold case.
“It may not be the best legal strategy, but, certainly, it was the right thing to do,” Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said.
With that, the 37-year-old rapper â€” who had a brush with fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s â€” walked slowly out of the courtroom, looking back at family and friends. He didn’t speak at his sentencing, but his lawyer, Anthony L. Ricco, said G. Dep was at peace with his decision.
“He was in search of his redemption and his honour, and some might say that he achieved that,” Ricco said after court.
The rapper revived the case by walking into a police station in late 2010. He told police he’d shot someone while trying to rob him on a street corner years earlier.
Then came an unusual trial in which he acknowledged confessing but argued that police might have mismatched his account to the October 1993 shooting of John Henkel, 32.
G. Dep was convicted last month â€” a decision jurors made “with a heavy heart,” foreman Jim Nelson wrote to the judge in a letter asking for leniency for the rapper, born Trevell Coleman.
“I, and I believe many others, have been moved by Mr. Coleman’s story and by what he did in listening to his conscience and coming forward after all these years,” wrote Nelson, the editor-in-chief of GQ magazine.
G. Dep became part of rap impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs’ slate of up-and-comers at Bad Boy Records in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He then sank into drug use and arrests on drug, trespassing and other charges.
But he finished a drug rehabilitation program and had released a new album online in the months before he turned himself in to police.
G. Dep told MTV News last month he has “no ill thoughts towards anybody” about the trial and outcome.
“Someone was taken from (the Henkel) family, so I can’t feel like I was robbed in any kind of way,” he told the network by phone from jail.
Henkel’s relatives didn’t attend the trial or sentencing. One of his brothers, Werner, has said he’s thankful the justice system saw the case through.
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