BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips has been charged with murder in the death of his cellmate at a Central California prison.

Phillips is suspected of killing 37-year-old Damion Soward at Kern Valley State Prison in April. Officials determined Soward was strangled.

The Kern County district attorney's office says the 40-year-old Phillips faces a first-degree murder charge.

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Phillips was once one of the nation's top college football players at Nebraska. He played for the St. Louis Rams, Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers during a three-year NFL career.

Phillips is serving a sentence of more than 31 years. He was convicted of choking his girlfriend and later of driving his car into three teens after a pickup football game.

KBAK-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1hy0OZG ) Phillips was ordered back to court Sept. 15.

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Information from: KBAK-TV, http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/