Friday, 29 May, 2020

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

Benjamin Schreiber was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole Benjamin Schreiber was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole
Deanna Wagner | 09 November, 2019, 18:58

According to the Iowa Court of Appeals, Schreiber "claims he momentarily died at the hospital, thereby fulfilling his "life" sentence ..."

Schreiber was sentenced to life in prison without parole for bludgeoning John Dale Terry to death in Agency, Iowa in 1996. After falling unconscious in his prison cell, he was taken to a local hospital where he was resuscitated five times.

A convicted murderer serving life in prison must remain behind bars despite his claim that he died when his heart stopped momentarily, a judge has ruled.

A district court judge found that Schreiber's novel argument was "unpersuasive and without merit".

The axe handle, which Schreiber had allegedly thrown out of a driver's side vehicle window, was later recovered with "blood and hair" on it, just west of Agency, Iowa, a small town roughly 95 miles southeast of Des Moines.

Judge Amanda Potterfield of the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the lower court in an opinion issued on Wednesday.

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Schreiber was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997. Instead, they zeroed in on what "life in prison" means.

"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", the court ruled.

Doctors performed emergency surgery, administered him antibiotics, and revived the 66-year-old - despite the man previously signing a "do not resuscitate order".

It is unclear if Schreiber will try to appeal his case to a higher court.

Schreiber remains incarcerated at the Iowa State Penitentiary in rural Lee County.

An attorney for Schreiber did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday morning.