Lawrence Phillips charged with first-degree murder

AP

Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his prison cellmate.

Phillips, who is currently serving a 31-year sentence at Kern Valley State Prison for crimes including auto theft, assault with a deadly weapon and spousal abuse, is accused of murdering a convicted murderer named Damion Soward. Authorities say Soward (a cousin of former NFL player R. Jay Soward) was strangled in the cell he shared with Phillips.

The 40-year-old Phillips is not facing the death penalty but could be sentenced to life in prison.

Off-field problems have always overshadowed Phillips’s career, dating to his days as a college star at Nebraska. Despite questions about his character, the Rams selected Phillips with the sixth overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft. In addition to his legal problems in the NFL, Phillips was a bad player on the field and averaged just 3.4 yards a carry in his NFL career.