SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) A California coroner says imprisoned former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips committed suicide while he was awaiting a trial that could have brought him the death penalty.

The Kern County coroner's office said Friday that the 40-year-old Phillips killed himself, but released no other details.

He was found unresponsive alone in his segregation cell at Kern Valley State Prison early Wednesday and died at a hospital.

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A judge ruled a day earlier that Phillips should face trial in the slaying of his cellmate.

Phillips went to prison in 2008 on a sentence of more than 31 years. He was convicted of twice choking his girlfriend in 2005 in San Diego and of driving his car into three teens later that year after a pickup football game in Los Angeles.