Ex-NFL star Lawrence Phillips suspected of killing prison cellmate

Lawrence Phillips played for the Rams after attending the University of Nebraska.
(James A. Finley / Associated Press)

Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips is suspected of killing his cellmate at a California state prison where he is serving a 31-year sentence, officials said Monday.

Phillips, 39, is accused of killing 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was found unresponsive in his cell in Kern Valley State Prison about 12:46 a.m. Saturday, said Lt. Marshall Denning of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Phillips is currently serving a sentence after he was convicted of domestic violence, false imprisonment and vehicle theft. Soward was serving 82-years-to-life in prison after being convicted of murder.

Phillips was a football standout at the University of Nebraska who helped the Cornhuskers win two national championships, but he was cut from several NFL and Canadian football league teams for a range of disciplinary problems.


He played with the Rams and the 49ers, among other teams.

He was arrested at least five times on suspicion of assaulting women, and he was convicted in 2006 of driving a Honda Accord onto a field near the Coliseum and striking three teenagers.

Phillips was not the only inmate to be suspected of killing his cellmate this weekend at the Delano prison, which houses about 3,756 inmates.

On Saturday morning, 41-year-old Rattanak Kim was found unresponsive in his cell. He was pronounced dead at a hospital at 11:48 a.m., Denning said.


Kim’s cellmate, John Munoz, 24, is suspected of killing him. Munoz was convicted by a Los Angeles County jury of sexual battery, rape and first-degree burglary and is serving a 43-year prison sentence, Denning said.

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