Court Rules Iowa Inmate Who Briefly Died Did Not Fulfill His Life Sentence

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By Tim Binnall

An Iowa inmate's rather clever attempt to get out of jail was shot down by a court this week when it was ruled that his proverbial near-death experience did not fulfill his life sentence. Benjamin Schreiber was reportedly convicted of first-degree murder back in 1997 and, in turn, received a life sentence for the crime. However, his time behind bars took an odd turn four years ago when he developed septic poisoning from kidney stones and had to be rushed to the hospital.

During the medical emergency, Schreiber's heart stopped five times and, for a few brief moments, he was essentially dead. Despite his family giving orders not to resuscitate him, quick-thinking doctors at the hospital managed to revive the convicted killer, treated him for the kidney stones, and sent him back to prison. However, in light of what had happened to him at the hospital, Schreiber subsequently argued that he had technically died and, therefore, had completed his life sentence.

After winding its way through the Iowa legal system for the last few years, a verdict was finally handed down this week when an appeals court declared that his brief dalliance with the hereafter did not, in fact, allow for Schreiber to be set free. Specifically, the court noted that his demise would only have been officially recognized if a medical examiner had declared him dead. "Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison," the judge said, "or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot."


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