The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a statement today naming former Nebraska and St. Louis Rams (and Dolphins and 49ers) running back Lawrence Phillips a suspect in the death of his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison over the weekend. From the statement:
The first incident occurred at 12:46 a.m. Saturday, April 11, when inmate Damion Soward, 37, was found unresponsive in his cell. He was transported to an outside hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Next-of-kin have been notified.
Prison officials have named Soward’s cellmate, Lawrence Phillips, 39, as a suspect in the case. Phillips was received by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) on Oct. 16, 2008, from San Diego County to serve a 31-year, four-month sentence for inflicting great bodily injury involving domestic violence, corporal injury to spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft. Phillips played in the National Football League prior to his incarceration in state prison.
Another inmate was killed on the same day, but CDCR officials didn’t indicate whether they believe the cases to be linked or not.
Phillips, if you have forgotten or never knew, is a terrible human being. His current 31-year sentence stems from a monthlong crime spree in August 2005. On August 2 he slapped his girlfriend, and then grabbed her by her hair and choked her. She later testified that she went unconscious, and woke up on the floor. Two weeks later Phillips basically did the same thing again, slapping, choking, and throwing her into a bathtub. After charges were filed for those incidents, he drove a stolen car onto a field and hit three teenagers after an argument during a pickup football game.
While these were the crimes that landed Phillips a lengthy prison stay, he has been arrested for numerous other incidents of assault and domestic violence. He was arrested three times before being released by the Rams, he was released by the Dolphins after he assaulted a woman in a nightclub, and he was charged with sexual assault while playing in the CFL. Most prominently, he was arrested in 1995 while still at Nebraska for dragging his girlfriend down a flight of stairs by her hair. Somehow, then-Nebraska head coach Tom Osbourne didn’t deem it an offense bad enough to kick Phillips off the team.
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