SIDNEY – Fourth District Judge Timothy O’Grady sentenced Brian Davis to life in prison on Thursday for the July 2009 death of his girlfriend, Holly Durben.

Additionally, Davis, of Shenandoah, was sentenced to pay court costs in the case, make restitution for his court-appointed attorneys, and pay $150,000 to either the estate of Holly Durben or her heirs.

In a February bench trial, O’Grady found Davis guilty of first-degree murder in Durben’s July 18, 2009 death.

Durben was found with a shotgun wound to her head in the couple’s bedroom at the farmhouse where they lived, about four miles south of Shenandoah on U.S. Highway 59.

“I am firmly convinced that Durben did not kill herself. I am firmly convinced, despite the uncertainty in the medical evidence, because I have been able to consider all of the evidence including Davis’ own statements,” O’Grady said when reading his verdict. “I am firmly convinced that Brian Davis choked Holly Durben, then shot her.”

Prior to Thursday’s sentencing, five victim impact statements were read, which members of Holly’s family wrote.

“You didn’t win,” Heather (Durben) Richardson, Holly’s sister, said to Davis in her statement. “She had more courage and strength in one hair on her head than you in your 6-foot, 7-inch body.”

Following the sentencing, Richardson added she and her family are relieved it’s over.

“Holly won today,” she said. “That was her life’s purpose, was to put him away. I’m glad to see justice today.”

However, Richardson added that domestic violence continues in several homes across the United States and that it remains an often overlooked issue.

“This is a crime that happens next door on a daily basis,” Richardson said. “This is a perfect example of that.”

Mary Lou Davis, Brian’s mother, said her son did not kill his girlfriend.

“I was the one that was there to pick up the pieces after she committed suicide,” she said. “I was the one who saw he got mental help. He would sit on the back porch and cry and cry and cry. We know he’s not guilty. I think by the time it goes through the appellate process that they will see that he’s not guilty.”

Davis was transported to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale, where he will begin his sentence immediately.

Davis has the right to appeal the sentence within 30 days of his sentencing Thursday. Before the sentencing in the Fremont County Courthouse defense attorneys Eric Nelson, Joseph Reedy and Michael Hooper filed a motion for a new trial, which O’Grady denied.

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