ON 15 December 2010, Trevell Coleman walked into a police station in New York and confessed to a murder that he believed he had committed 17 years before. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, and, in May 2012, at the age of 38, he was sentenced to 15 years.
The story of his confession is the subject of the next episode of Heart and Soul: The dilemma, a series on the BBC World Service that explores how people have resolved “some of the most difficult dilemmas imaginable”, and the part that faith has played in these stories
Mr Coleman, also known as G Dep, a rising star in New York’s hip-hop scene, chose to hand himself in for a shooting he committed at the age of 18; an act that he said had haunted him ever since. In an interview conducted at the Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison, he tells the show’s presenter, Mike Wooldridge, how his conscience was tormented by the act, and of his fear that he would burn in hell. “It just seemed like sometimes I would wake up and God would reveal to me that I wasn’t even really living. He was just testing me the whole time.”
Although he has no regrets about his decision to confess to the police, and regards his sentence as a “blessing”, because it could have been longer, the jury foreman describes his unease with the court process. “This guy has lived inside his head for longer than any punishment he should have to bear.”
Mr Coleman’s wife, Crystal Sutton, a Roman Catholic, describes her fears about bringing up their twin sons, now 12, alone. One of the sons tells Wooldridge: “He wanted to believe that he could do what’s right.”
The episode airs on BBC World Service on Sunday 10 July at 9.30 a.m.