Lawrence Phillips, 40, found dead in California jail cell Lawrence Phillips, the former Nebraska football star who was facing a murder charge, was found dead Wednesday morning in his California prison. Authorities at Kern Valley State Prison said they are investigating the death as a suspected suicide. The prison staff was conducting security checks shortly after midnight local time Wednesday when they found Phillips, 40, unresponsive in his cell, according to a release from the prison. Phillips was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead about 90 minutes late. Phillips was on trial for the alleged murder of his former cellmate at the prison. If convicted, he could have faced the death penalty. He has been in prison since October 2008, where he was serving a 31-year sentence on various charges including inflicting bodily harm including domestic violence, corporal injury to a spouse, false imprisonment and vehicle theft. Phillips played running back for Nebraska in the 1990s before a brief stint in the NFL. His pro career was cut short by a series of off-field incidents and legal issues.