A convicted murderer in Iowa tried to argue that he’d completed his life sentence and should be immediately released because he technically “died” while receiving emergency treatment during his incarceration.
Benjamin Schreiber, an inmate at the Iowa State Penitentiary, said his sentence in 1997 for first-degree murder was life without the possibility of parole, which he finished serving when his heart stopped beating during a severe illness in 2015. The sentence was “not to Life plus one day,” he argued, according to the Des Moines Register.
Hospital doctors restarted the 66-year-old’s heart five times after he was rushed in unconscious with severe septic poisoning brought on by large kidney stones. Schreiber contended he’s been illegally held in custody since the 2015 health crisis.
But the Iowa Court of Appeals rejected the argument in an opinion released Wednesday.
“Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” wrote Judge Amanda Potterfield.
“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,” Potterfield added.