Prisoner who ‘died’ and was brought back to life argued his life sentence had technically ended

  • Benjamin Schreiber, 66, filed for post-conviction relief from his sentence in Iowa
  • He was sentenced to life for beating a man to death with an ax handle in 1996
  • But claimed that his sentence had been served when his heart stopped in 2015
  • Appeals court judge dismissed his claim as ‘unpersuasive and without merit’ 

A convicted murderer serving life in prison must remain behind bars despite his claim that he died when his heart stopped momentarily, a judge has ruled.

Benjamin Edward Schreiber, 66, ‘is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot,’ a judge in Iowa ruled on Wednesday.

Schreiber was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1996 ax-handle bludgeoning death of John Terry, and sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Benjamin Edward Schreiber, 66, claims he died in 2015 when his heart stopped

In March 2015, Schreiber developed large kidney stones and was hospitalized after septic poisoning caused him to pass out in his cell at the Iowa State Penitentiary.

After he was rushed to a hospital, Schreiber’s heart had to be restarted five times by medical staff, in spite of a ‘do not resuscitate’ order he had in place, according to court documents.

Schreiber underwent surgery to repair the damage to his kidneys, and was treated for the septic shock with antibiotics and recovered. 

In April 2018, Schreiber filed an application for post-conviction relief, claiming that when his heart had stopped, he had technically died, and thus his life sentence had been fully served. 

Schreiber is being held for the rest of his natural life at the Iowa State Penitentiary (above)

Schreiber argued in the filings that he was sentenced to life without parole, ‘but not to life plus one day.’

The district court rejected Schreiber claim as ‘unpersuasive and without merit.’

Judge Amanda Potterfield of the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the lower court in an opinion issued on Wednesday.

Schreiber is being held for the rest of his natural life at the Iowa State Penitentiary.

His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.


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