Lawrence Phillips to use concussion money to fund defense vs. murder charges

— -- Former running back Lawrence Phillips plans to use the money he receives as part of the NFL's concussion settlement with retired players to fund his legal defense against first-degree murder charges, the attorney representing him in that lawsuit says.

Attorney Daniel S. Chamberlain told USA Today Sports that Phillips will receive an estimated $1.4 million from the concussion settlement. Chamberlain told USA Today that he aided Phillips in retaining Jesse Whitten as his defense attorney.

Whitten estimates the cost of Phillips' defense might cost as much as $200,000, according to USA Today.

Phillips, 40, was charged earlier this month in the death of his cellmate, 37-year-old Damion Soward, at Kern Valley (California) State Prison in April. Officials determined Soward was strangled. Phillips pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Sept. 15. T. Alan Rogers, the public defender who was assigned Phillips' case, told USA Today Sports earlier this month that he believes the evidence will show that Phillips acted in self-defense.

Chamberlain told USA Today Sports that he believes head injuries suffered playing football might have played a role in Phillips' troubles with the law.

In April, U.S. District Court Judge Anita B. Brody gave final approval to a $1 billion settlement that would allow payments of up to $5 million to former players who suffer neurological disorders after they retire. Opponents of the settlement say the deal is inadequate. Some former players opted out of the settlement, and in August, a group appealed the terms to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys for the retired NFL players who support the settlement with the league over traumatic brain injuries said in a statement last week that legal wrangling over the deal is preventing former players from getting their benefits while they are still alive.

Phillips is already 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.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.