Prisoner Who ‘Died’ And Got Brought Back To Life Argued His Life Sentence Had Ended

Credit: Iowa State Penitentiary & Alamy

A prisoner who ‘died’ and then got brought back to life argued his life sentence has ended. 

When a person is given a life sentence, this means they will be subjected to the sentence for the rest of their life.

However, one inmate tried to avoid this by claiming that he had already died.

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Benjamin Edward Schreiber, 70, was a convicted murderer.

He was found guilty of first-degree murder – without the possibility of parole – in the 1996 killing of John Terry, who was bludgeoned to death with an axe handle.

Years after his sentencing, in March 2015, Schreiber developed large kidney stones and was hospitalised with septic poisoning.

He passed out in his cell at Iowa State Penitentiary.

The inmate was then rushed to hospital and his heart reportedly had to be restarted five times using an IV containing ‘adrenaline/epinephrine’ by medical staff.

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This was in spite of a ‘do not resuscitate’ order which had been put in place years earlier, according to court documents.

The filing says that medics contacted his brother in Texas when Schreiber was initially submitted to the hospital and he reportedly told them: “If he is in pain, you may give him something to ease the pain, but otherwise you are to let him pass.”

Schreiber ended up undergoing surgery to repair the damage to his kidneys and was also treated for septic shock with antibiotics.

Eventually, he recovered.

The prisoner filed an application for post-conviction relief in April 2018.

Schreiber claimed that when his heart stopped, he had technically died and therefore, his life sentence should be over.

A judge declined Schreiber’s request to be made free in 2019, branding his claim ‘unpersuasive and without merit’.

At the time, Judge Amanda Potterfield stated: “Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.”

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While court documents say: “Petitioner asserts that he ‘died’ on March 30, 2015, and as a result of such ‘death’ he has now served the life sentence and should be released from custody.

“The court finds this assertion unpersuasive and without merit. Nothing in the record supports petitioner’s claims.

“The petitioner’s filing of these proceedings in itself confirms the petitioner’s current status as living.”

Schreiber’s additional claim that his due process rights were violated when he wishes to not be resuscitated was not followed by the doctors were not mentioned.

The Court of Appeals reportedly said in its ruling that this couldn’t be addressed as the lower court had not made a judgement on it.

Schreiber died in April 2023 in a hospital in Fort Dodge, Iowa, according to his online obituary.

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