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  4.  » Prisoner Claims Life Sentence was Fulfilled After Short-Term Death Before Being Revived by Doctors

Prisoner Claims Life Sentence was Fulfilled After Short-Term Death Before Being Revived by Doctors

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2019 | Criminal Defense Lawyer, Post Conviction Relief |

An Iowa man is currently challenging the courts as he claims he’s already died, and by doing so has fulfilled his sentence of life behind bars. Benjamin Schreiber has been in prison since 1997 when he was found guilty for clubbing a man to death with the wooden handle of a pickax. His sentence was life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

How Did Benjamin Schreiber Die?

Fast forward to 2015, Schreiber suffered from kidney stones that grew so large they gave his body severe septic poisoning causing him to be rushed to the hospital while he was unconscious. Years before, he had signed a “do not resuscitate” order. While in the hospital, Schreiber’s brother told doctors they could administer medication to ease the pain, but to follow the signed DNR order. Schreiber’s heart stopped and doctors revived him five times.

Once he recovered and was stable, he was ready to be released from prison, as according to him – he had served his life sentence and was back living a second life. Courts disagreed saying that until a medical examiner claims he is deceased, he is still living and therefore still belongs behind bars.

What Are the Courts Saying About Benjamin Schreiber’s “Death”?

In April 2018, Schreiber officially filed for post-conviction relief, claiming that he was wrongly being held in prison. He sentence was supposed to end with his death, which according to him had taken place in 2015, when his heart stopped before doctors ignored his DNR orders and revived him. According to the Iowa Court of Appeals, a class A felony “must spend the rest of their natural life in prison, regardless of how long that period of time ends up being or any events occurring before the defendant’s life ends.”

It is unknown at the moment if Schreiber will file a lawsuit regarding the hospital disobeying his “do not resuscitate” order, but there may be more merit in that claim than his current one.

If you or someone you know are in a position where the courts decision is in question, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your team is the best way to combat your issue. Russell Spatz has over four decades of experience and is waiting for your call today at 305-442-0200.


Farzan, Antonia. “An Inmate Claimed His Life Sentence Ended When He Died and Was Revived. Nice Try, Court Rules.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Nov. 2019,

Spoerre, Anna. “A Man Serving a Life Sentence in Iowa Died and Was Revived at the Hospital. Did He Fulfill His Prison Sentence?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Nov. 2019,

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