American rapper, Travell ‘G. Dep’ Coleman, has been granted clemency by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, nearly two-decade-old after he turned himself in for a murder case.
Coleman, now 49, has served 13 years of his 15-year-to-life sentence after walking into a New York police precinct in 2010.
Two years ahead of his original parole eligibility in 2025, his sentence has been commuted by the Democratic governor, who also granted clemency to 15 other individuals on Friday.
The rapper, who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of John Henkel, will now be able to seek parole and could walk home earlier than expected.
Governor Hochul granted 12 pardons and four commutations ahead of the holiday weekend, marking the third time Hochul has granted clemency in 2023.
‘Through the clemency process, it is my solemn responsibility as governor to recognize the efforts individuals have made to improve their lives and show that redemption is possible,’ Hochul said.
The rapper earned an associate degree while in prison and facilitated violence prevention and sobriety counseling programs.
He also joined a variety of educational and rehabilitative classes, according to Hochul’s office.
His clemency application was supported by the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case and the judge who sentenced him, Hochul said.
The rapper was one of the rising stars of hip-hop impresario Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs´ Bad Boy Records label in the late 1990s.
He had hits with ‘Special Delivery’ and ‘Let´s Get It’ and helped popularize a loose-limbed dance called the Harlem shake in the early 2000s.
But his career slumped by late 2010, with at least a dozen arrests on drug, trespassing, and other charges.
Attorney Anthony L. Ricco said at the time that Coleman ‘had been haunted’ by the 1993 fatal shooting of Henkel and decided to confess to it.
The rapper showed up at the police precinct on December 15, 2010, and admitted to killing Henkel, a father of three, outside a Harlem apartment complex around 1 am on October 19, 1993.
Coleman calmly explained that he had shot someone after demanding money on a street corner when he was 18 years old, two detectives said at a court hearing in 2012.
‘He said that he felt bad and that it was eating him up,’ Detective Dave Feliciano said.
The victim’s brother, Robert Henkel, had demanded Hochul reject the urgings by prosecutor David Drucker to release Coleman, calling it a ‘farce.’
He told the New York Post that ‘it is one thing to seek (clemency) for drug crimes but not murder.’