BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (USA Today) — The attorney representing Lawrence Phillips told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday that the former star running back was acting in self-defense in death of Phillips’ former cellmate at Kern Valley (Calif.) State Prison.
“I think the evidence is going to prove that, that he had to defend himself to the death,’’ said T. Alan Rogers, a deputy public defender for Kern County. “He basically had no escape. And when you’re forced to defend yourself and subject to this violent environment with no one that can help you, you have to defend yourself.
“This is a kill-or-be-killed environment.’’
Phillips, facing first-degree murder charges, on Tuesday entered a plea of not guilty through his attorney at the Kern County Superior Court.
Rogers said he was assigned the case early Tuesday and had a chance to speak with Phillips for only 20 minutes. Phillips, wearing shackles and a prison-issued white uniform, mostly focused on the judge during the short court session.