Convicted Killer Claims He’s Served His Life Sentence After He ‘Died’ Five Times

by : Emily Brown on : 09 Nov 2019 16:53
Convicted Killer Claims He's Served His Life Sentence After He 'Died' Five TimesConvicted Killer Claims He's Served His Life Sentence After He 'Died' Five TimesPA/Pixabay

A convicted killer is arguing he’s completed his life sentence in prison because he briefly ‘died’ during a medical emergency. 


Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was sentenced to life without parole for bludgeoning a man to death in 1996, after which he was taken to Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.

Theoretically, a life sentence would mean the convict remained in prison until he died, however this definition would pose a problem should they come back to life.

Heart rate monitorHeart rate monitorPixabay

It’s not the first time someone has claimed to have been revived from death. And Schreiber claims it’s exactly what happened to him.


The 66-year-old developed septic poisoning as a result of kidney stones in 2015 and he was taken from prison to hospital. According to ABC News, Schreiber says his heart stopped five times, meaning doctors had to fight to bring him back to life.

The convicted killer made a full recovery and went back to prison, though upon returning it seems he spent his time searching for loopholes in his case, as last year he filed a claim to say his life sentence should be over.

Man who briefly died claims his life sentence should be overMan who briefly died claims his life sentence should be overIowa Department of Corrections

In the claim, Schreiber said he had been resuscitated against his will and that his brief ‘death’ meant his life sentence had technically ended, BBC News reports.

A district judge reportedly found little merit in Schreiber’s argument, saying the fact he’d filed the claim was evidence enough to prove he was still among the living.

They admitted the argument was original, but described it as ‘unpersuasive’ and in turn decided to rule against the claim.

Schreiber’s lawyer didn’t give up though, as they took the case to the state’s court of appeal in a further attempt to free the killer. However, on Wednesday, November 6, the appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling.


Judge Amanda Potterfield said:

Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot.

The appeals court also cleared up any grey area surrounding the definition of a ‘life sentence’ by pointing out the end of the sentence would go hand in hand with the end of Schreiber’s life – not a brief experience of death. The killer’s sentence will therefore come to an end when a medical examiner formally declares him dead.

It was an innovative effort, but Schreiber will just have to accept he’s behind bars for good.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Benjamin Schreiber, Death, Iowa, killer, Life Sentence, prison, resuscitation, sentence


ABC News and 1 other
  1. ABC News

    Iowa inmate's claim he briefly died won't end life sentence

  2. BBC

    Killer claims his life sentence is served because he briefly died