DELANO, Calif. -- (KTLA) -- Former St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips died after being found unresponsive in a Kern County prison cell early Wednesday morning, and authorities believed he took his own life. He was 40 years old.
Staff at the Kern Valley State Prison were conducting security checks about 12:05 a.m. when they discovered the former NFL player unresponsive in his cell, according to a news release from the prison.
He was rushed to an outside hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly before 1:30 a.m., the release stated.
The case was being investigated as a suspected suicide, prison officials said. They did not disclose information on how he died.
Phillips killed a cellmate last April, prison officials told the Los Angeles Times at that time. He had been in an Administrative Segregation Unit on a single-cell status since April 11, when he was suspected in the case.
The victim was 37-year-old Damion Soward, who was serving time for the murder of a rival gang member.
Phillips was charged with Soward's strangulation death in September, the Times reported, citing the Kern County District Attorney's Office.
At the time of his death, he was on trial for the homicide, according to the release.
Phillips had been in prison since 2008. He was serving a 31-year sentence for “inflicting great bodily injury involving domestic violence, corporal injury to a spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft,” the release stated.