Rapper G. Dep: 'Burden Is Lifted' After Confessing to Murder

Aspiring rapper Trevell Coleman confessed to a 1993 cold-case murder.

ByABC News
September 20, 2013, 4:22 PM

Sept. 20, 2013 — -- Trevell Coleman was once a rising voice in the hip-hop scene who seemed destined for stardom.

Then, the rapper from Harlem decided to confess to being the gunman in a cold-case murder, which led him to be sentenced to prison.

Coleman, 39, was more commonly known by his stage name, G. Dep -- short for Ghetto Dependent. So talented, he was signed in his 20s by Sean "Diddy" Combs, who performed with him in his music video, "Let's Get It."

Coleman led a self-proclaimed "gangsta" life and glorified it in rhyme, with raps like "Keep It Gangsta," which includes the lyrics, "keeping America high, and why wouldn't I / Gangstas don't talk, we beat the case and walk."

But that life would suck Coleman back in, and he would pay a great debt for committing a crime, betrayed by the last person anyone would have suspected -- himself.

"That was the only way I could have been absolved," Coleman said when talking about turning himself into police. "Personal sacrifice."

Coleman dropped out of college at age 18 in search of a music career. He funded recording sessions by selling cocaine on the streets of Harlem, N.Y. He dabbled in drugs himself, and for $500, he bought a gun.

In fall 1993, a month before his 19th birthday, Coleman used that gun to mug a stranger, he said.

"He was standing under the scaffolding on Park Avenue, 114th street. ... I was riding my bike," he recalled. "I told him, 'Give me the money.' ... He was kind of, you know, unresponsive."

Then, Coleman said, the stranger started coming towards him.

"The guy grabbed the gun, and I pulled the gun back and that's when I fired," he said. "And the guy winced and I didn't know what happened."

Coleman said he fired three times and then fled on his bike, telling no one what had happened. As he left home the next morning, the police were canvasing the neighborhood and stopped him on the street.

"They said, 'Do you know anything about a shooting that occurred yesterday?' And I said, 'Nah,'" Coleman said. "That made me think he didn't pass away, because they said 'shooting.'"

A week later, Coleman said, he threw the gun into the East River. He stayed quiet about the Harlem shooting for four years and poured himself into his music.

Five years later, his talent caught the attention of Sean Combs, already one of the most powerful men in hip-hop. Coleman said he was offered a $350,000 record deal.

"It was definitely more money that I had ever seen," he said.

Coleman had a daughter with a girlfriend. After that relationship ended, he met Crystal Sutton at a club. The couple was married in 2004 and had twin boys, now 9 years old.

He had fame, fortune and now a family -- and the guilt that had been eating away at him.

"It seemed like [it] just wasn't fair for me to be happy," Coleman said. "I used to curb my happiness, you know. Like, just, 'Hah, wait a minute. I'm smiling too much. I'm laughing too much.'"

"I felt like I couldn't really tell anybody," he added. "I didn't want them to be involved."

Coleman remained haunted by his secret and often wondered what happened to the man he shot.

"I thought about whether or not he had children," Coleman said. "I couldn't believe that I could have this beautiful thing in my life and have done something like that. ... He could have been a father and here I am trying to be a father."