CANTON, S.D. (KELO) — The 24-year-old man who was charged in April for the death of 20-year-old Randi Gerlach has been sentenced.

Jackson Phillips was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.

Courtroom 2B at the Lincoln County Courthouse was packed for Jackson Phillips’ sentencing hearing. The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April for the death of 20-year-old Randi Gerlach.

On March 1st, 2022, Randi Gerlach’s body was found in the basement of a house along Highway 11 on the southern edge of Sioux Falls. A short time later, authorities arrested Jackson Phillips for domestic abuse and violating a no-contact order. He pleaded not guilty to all of those initial charges.

After Gerlach’s autopsy was complete, the cause of death came back as homicide by strangulation and more severe charges were filed. In April of this year, Phillips pleaded guilty to manslaughter. In exchange for that plea, the other charges, including murder, were dropped.

According to a factual basis statement, Phillips admitted to strangling Gerlach on February 21, 2022 — eight days before her body was found. He then hid her body in his parents’ basement. A family member found her about a week later.

In court Friday morning, witnesses and Gerlach’s family members said Phillips was telling people Gerlach checked herself into a behavioral health center during the eight days she was missing. A lieutenant who worked the case said Phillips was also using Gerlach’s car and phone.

The sentencing hearing got underway Friday morning and took most of the day, with numerous people taking the stand.

Gerlach was a young mother who grew up in Sioux Falls. Since her death, her family has been raising awareness about domestic violence.

Following the sentencing, they spoke with KELOLAND News.

“The news today was good news. But how will it affect me tomorrow and the next day and the next day? I don’t know,” father Jody Gerlach said.

“It’s been a long time in coming. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to feel and reflect from everything. But I just know that the decision made today was what a lot of surrounding communities in South Dakota was wanting,” sister Kiley Riedel said.

The Gerlach family says they hope this tragedy will focus new attention on providing better protections for victims of domestic violence. The judge also ordered Phillips to pay more than $31,000 in restitution.