Inmate Argued His Life Sentence Ended When He Died And Was Revived


Four years ago, Benjamin Schreiber died while serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. According to court records, in March of 2015, he was hospitalized after large kidney stones lead to septic poisoning. 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".

The appeals court affirmed that ruling Wednesday, saying: "Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot". His brother told hospital staff, "If he is in pain, you may give him something to ease the pain, but otherwise you are to let him pass", according to court documents.

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

Last year, Schreiber filed for post-conviction relief.

But the 66-year-old claims that episode should be enough to fulfill his life sentence, since his life technically ended before it began again.

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After Schreiber recovered, in 2018, he claimed that he died temporarily at the hospital, and has fulfilled his life sentence.

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

In its opinion, the appeals court said a "plain reading" of Iowa law says defendants guilty of a class A felony "must spend the rest of their natural life in prison, regardless of how long that period of time ends up being or any events occurring before the defendant's life ends". Schreiber and Terry's girlfriend had apparently planned the man's killing.

A district court disagreed with his argument, and Schreiber took the case to the Iowa Court of Appeals. But the lower court didn't address that aspect of the case, and the appellate panel said it wouldn't either.