Prisoner who briefly ‘died’ argues he’s served life sentence

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By Legal Cheek on

Worth a shot

A US prisoner serving a life sentence for murder has failed to convince a court that he completed his punishment when he briefly died during a medical emergency.

Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to life in prison in 1997 without parole in Iowa for bludgeoning John Dale Terry to death in 1996.

The ambitious legal argument arose in March 2015 when Schreiber was struck down by septic poisoning, according to court records. He was taken to hospital where he had to be resuscitated five times.

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In April 2018, Schreiber applied for post-conviction relief, arguing he had “momentarily died” at the hospital and therefore completed his life sentence. A district court previously denied his ambitious appeal — a decision which was upheld last week by the Iowa Court of Appeals.

“Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” the court said in its ruling. It went on to note that the possibility that Schreiber is “dead” seemed “unlikely” given that he himself had signed the legal documents in the case.

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