Man who 'died' in prison and recovered asks for life sentence to be rescinded

Man who 'died' in prison and recovered asks for life sentence to be rescinded
Iowa Department Of Corrections/iStock

A prisoner thought he’d come up with the perfect way to get out of prison after he ‘died’ while serving a life sentence.

Benjamin Schreiber’s heart stopped in hospital, meaning he had momentarily died, and he tried to make a case for his time in jail to be brought to an end.

Schreiber was found guilty of first degree murder in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison without parole, CNN reports.

He was found to have conspired with the victim’s girlfriend to beat the man to death with the handle of a pickaxe. However, after he suffered a health scare in 2015, close to 20 years after he first went behind bars, he argued that he had served his life sentence.

The incident saw him moved from Iowa State Penitentiary to hospital where his heart stopped as a result of sepsis. He made a recovery, but once moving back to prison he requested that his sentence should be considered fulfilled.

Schreiber, who eventually died in 2023 of natural causes in prison, argued that he had never requested to be brought back to life and it was reported that he previously signed a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Despite his best efforts, his argument was described by the courts as “unpersuasive and without merit”.

When it progressed to the Iowa Court of Appeals, the findings were even more damning for Schreiber.

Writing in her decision, Justice Amanda Potterfield said: "We do not believe the legislature intended this provision, which defines the sentences for the most serious class of felonies under Iowa law and imposes its ‘harshest penalty’... to set criminal defendants free whenever medical procedures during their incarceration lead to their resuscitation by medical professionals."

"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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