By KELLY WHEELER
City News Service
Ex-NFL running back Lawrence Phillips was sentenced Friday to more than 31 years in prison for attacking his girlfriend in San Diego, and separately, driving his car into three teens in a dispute after a pickup football game.
Phillips, 34, was convicted Aug. 11 of assault, false imprisonment, making a criminal threat and other charges for twice choking his girlfriend in 2005, including once into unconsciousness.
After the charges were filed against him in San Diego, Phillips fled to Los Angeles, where in 2006 he was convicted of seven felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon for aiming a car at a group of boys and young men after an August 2005 pickup football game near the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Three people were struck by the car, and a fourth young man was injured when the car struck a bicycle which then hit him.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Cooper told San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kerry Wells that Phillips exhibited violence toward women over a 10-year period, beginning in 1995.
While at the University of Nebraska, Phillips attacked his girlfriend in her apartment and dragged her down her three flights of stairs, the prosecutor said.
Phillips punched a woman at a club in 1998, choked a woman in 2000 and choked another woman in Canada in 2003, Cooper said.
"He is a threat to society," the prosecutor said. "He is a danger, particularly to women."
Defense attorney Steve Wadler said Phillips had support from friends and said he was struck by the defendant's intellect.
"He's an articulate man," Wadler said. "He has a winning personality when that side of him is on display. This represents a human tragedy on many levels."
Wadler said Phillips grew up without a father and was taken out of the home because of violence.
Phillips told the judge that the court didn't give him the ability to have a fair trial. He said he planned to bring up a number of issues on appeal.
Amaliya Weisler testified at Phillips' trial that she met him through a friend in 2005 and the two began a relationship almost immediately.
Around 4 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2005, Weisler said she and Phillips argued because "we weren't getting along sexually." She said she questioned why he was living in her apartment, and he slapped her across in the face and put his hands around her neck.
He grabbed her by her hair and choked her until she flipped herself over the couch and broke free, according to Weisler.
"I woke up on the floor unconscious," she testified.
Weisler said that 11 days later, she met Phillips at an apartment complex she wasn't familiar with, and he accused her of having sex with one of his friends, then slapped, choked and knocked her over again.
The woman attended Phillips' sentencing Friday but did not make a statement.
Wells sentenced Phillips to 24 years and four months on the San Diego case, and re-sentenced the defendant to seven years behind bars on the Los Angeles case. Phillips was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison on that case.
The St. Louis Rams selected Phillips sixth in the 1996 NFL draft. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers.