“He had been haunted by this,” attorney Anthony L. Ricco said Thursday after the rapper pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and manslaughter in the 1993 shooting of John Henkel. Defendants generally plead not guilty early in their cases, even if they’ve confessed, to allow evidence-gathering, legal arguments and any plea negotiations to proceed.

G. Dep, who 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, turned up at a police precinct last month to say he’d shot someone as a teenager during a robbery in East Harlem. Detectives matched details he provided to the slaying of Henkel, who was shot three times in the chest outside an apartment complex.

The rapper, now 36, has said he didn’t know the victim died until police told him so.

Ricco said he planned to analyze the rapper’s statements and other evidence to see what charges he believes fit the case.

Born Trevell Coleman, the rapper was one of the rising stars of hip-hop impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Records label in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But G. Dep saw his career slump after his 2001 debut album, Child of the Ghetto.

He became mired in drug use and racked up a roster of low-level arrests in recent years, though he has tried a number of addiction-recovery programs, Ricco said.

Meanwhile, he digitally released a new album, Ghetto Legend, last year with a new label, Famous Records, which focuses on releasing music online.

Now being held without bail, G. Dep could face up to life in prison if convicted of murder. But the married father of three doesn’t rue turning himself in, his lawyer said.

“I get the sense that he’s relieved,” Ricco said. “We have some people who say, ‘Well, he was stupid for confessing.’ On the other hand, there are a lot of people in life who say it’s the first step toward redemption.”