MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — Seventeen years after shooting a man on a Harlem street, Trevell Coleman can remember the floppy hat he was wearing and the fabric of the jacket he’d donned just before opening fire at 114th Street and Park Avenue.
But in a taped confession that was played for jurors in his murder trial Wednesday, the Harlem-born rapper repeatedly told authorites he was never sure whether the man was even hit.
“He just kind of winced,” Coleman, once an up-and-coming rapper under the name G.Dep, told Assistant District Attorney David Drucker in the December 2010 confession tape. “It almost looked like the shots weren’t even hitting him.” Coleman turned himself in to police not realizing the victim in the shooting had died.
Prosecutors say the cold-case shooting Coleman confessed to is the 1993 killing of Jonathan Henkel, who was shot three times in the abdomen with the same type of .40 caliber semi-automatic weapon Coleman told police he used in a botched robbery when he was a teenager.
But defense attorney Anthony Ricco told jurors the incident his client described in so much detail doesn’t match up with the one prosecutors have tried to pin on him.
In the tape, Coleman told police he thought the shooting happened in late February or March — “jacket weather”, but not deep winter — though after Drucker prodded him, he conceded it might have been in the fall. Henkel was shot in November.
Coleman also described how the victim — whom he called clean shaven and curly-topped, unlike the straight-haired and mustachioed Henkel — rushed after him and even tried to grab him off his bike after the shots rang out. That contradicts testimony from a forensic pathologist who told jurors on Tuesday that Henkel’s lung collapsed almost immediately after he was shot and that he would have lost consciousness “fairly quickly.”
Still, crucial details — including the exact time of day, the location and the unusual caliber of the gun — align precisely with the Henkel slaying. Drucker told jurors in his opening statement Tuesday that detectives poring over police records found no other crimes matching even a broad description of the one Coleman told police was “eating him alive.”
“It was always bothering me,” Coleman said on the tape. “I really didn’t know what happened to him."