Convicted Killer Benjamin Schreiber Says He's Served His Life Sentence After Briefly Dying

Benjamin Schreiber was not able to convince a judge he had already died.
Benjamin Schrieber says he's already served a life sentence. Iowa Department of Corrections.

The Iowa inmate was serving life in prison without parole for beating his acquaintance, John Dale Terry, to death.

A convicted murderer argued in court that he has already served his life sentence because he was temporarily dead on an operating table. 

An Iowa judge did not agree.

Benjamin Schreiber claimed he "died" four years ago during surgery for extremely large kidney stones that resulted in him contracting sepsis. The inmate said he was revived with antibiotics, despite having a do-not-resuscitate order. Last year, he filed an application for post-conviction relief, stating his life sentence had been served because he died momentarily on March 30, 2015.

Schreiber also claimed his heart was restarted five times. 

"He asserts he was sentenced to life without parole, 'but not to life plus one day,''' his court filing says. 

An Iowa appeals court denied his reasoning and his application.

"The court finds this assertion unpersuasive and without merit," Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote in the panel's decision. "Nothing in the record supports petitioner's claims. The petitioner's filing of these proceedings confirms the petitioner's current status as living."

Schrieber was convicted in 1997 of first-degree murder in the beating death of John Dale Terry. Schrieber used an ax handle to kill Terry, whose body was found in a trailer in 1996. The two had gone out drinking with other acquaintances, authorities said. A witness told investigators "Terry was struck, severely injured and left at the scene."

The murder weapon was thrown from the driver's side window of a vehicle. Authorities found it the next day, riddled with blood and hair, in a small town about 95 miles southeast of Des Moines, officials said. 

Schreiber's attorney, Denise Gonyea, reached Monday by, was asked if she plans to appeal. 

"I really can't comment at this time," Gonyea said.