The 40-year-old retired football player was facing a possible death penalty for the alleged murder of his former cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison. He attended a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, in which he got the news there was “sufficient cause to believe” that Phillips was guilty of the killing. The suspected murder occurred on April 11 when his cellmate Damion Soward was found dead from an apparent strangulation.
According to Sporting News, a month before the incident Phillips wrote a letter to his mother, which read in part, “I feel myself very close to snapping. My anger grows daily as I have become fed up with prison. I feel my anger is near bursting and that will result in my death or the death of someone else.”
Phillips’ initial jail sentence was a 31-year bid for domestic violence, false imprisonment, and vehicle theft.
After his football career ended in 1999 and a few hiccups at an attempt in arena football, Phillips began to find himself on the wrong side of the law. His troubled past included driving a car into three teenagers and he was arrested at least five times for allegedly assaulting women.