Convicted Murderer Who Briefly Died Says His Life Sentence Has Been Served

Benjamin Schreiber was sentenced to life without parole after being convicted of murder for killing a man with the handle of an ax in 1996

Iowa inmate argues life sentence ended when he briefly died

"Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison", Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote, "or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot". Therefore, they find the possibility that he is dead "unlikely".

Schreiber had argued in court that a brief brush with death should be his ticket to a new life outside of prison, in a weird case that has tested the definition of a "life sentence".

The legal question arose in March 2015 when Schreiber, 66, suffered from large kidney stones which led to septic poisoning.

When he lost consciousness at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, a staff member called his brother, who told the hospital that although it could give Schreiber medicine to ease his pain, "otherwise you are to let him pass", according to Schreiber's petition. He slipped into unconsciousness and was rushed to the hospital, where, despite a "do not resuscitate" order he'd signed, he was resuscitated five times with "adrenaline/epinephrine via an IV".

He was convicted in the bludgeoning death that year of a 39-year-old man in a plot carried out with the man's girlfriend. "Because his sentence has been fulfilled, he argues, he is imprisoned illegally and should be immediately released".

An appeals court just ruled that's not how it works.

The district court found his argument was "unpersuasive and without merit", The Washington Post reported. He said the lower court made procedural mistakes and had dismissed the case without an evidentiary hearing to develop his claims. It notes that Schreiber cited no case law to bolster his arguments.

His lawyer argued that Schreiber had been sentenced to life without parole "but not to life plus one day".

He said his sentence ended when his heart stopped during a medical emergency four years ago, even though he was revived.

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