Murderer claims his life sentence has been served because he briefly died

An Iowa prisoner serving a life sentence argued he had completed his sentence after “dying” momentarily in hospital.

Benjamin Schreiber was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1996 after he clubbed a man to death with the handle of a pickax and left his body outside a trailer, He had conspired with the man’s girlfriend to murder him.

In March 2015, Schreiber developed severe complications from kidney stones and went into septic shock at the Iowa State Penitentiary. He lost consciousness in his cell and was taken to hospital.

Once there, he momentarily “died” in doctors’ care. He was revived using a combination of epinephrine and adrenaline, his sepsis was treated and he was sent back to jail.

According to his attorneys, his momentary “death” meant he had completed his life sentence and his return to prison was therefore illegal. Schreiber also said he was revived against his wishes.

"Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot," Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote in the court of appeals opinion.

Schreiber, 66, remains in prison at the time of publication.