Benjamin Schreiber is a convicted murderer at the Iowa State Penitentiary, where he’s currently serving a life sentence without parole. Last year, he appealed his conviction for an unusual reason: he says he has completed his life sentence.
This is certainly a bold claim, but one can see where Schreiber is coming from. As reported in The Washington Post, the convict developed severe septic poisoning back in 2015 due to kidney stones so large they caused him to urinate internally. This led to him falling unconscious and being rushed to the hospital, where the doctor resuscitated him five times with adrenaline injections apparently against his wishes.
Because of that, he argues he has already died and so he has completed his life sentence. The Iowa Court of Appeal has a different opinion, however. In a ruling released last week, the judge said Schreiber will remain in prison until a doctor confirms he is truly dead.
“Petitioner asserts that he 'died' on March 30, 2015, and as a result of such “death” he has now served the life sentence and should be released from custody. The court finds this assertion unpersuasive and without merit. Nothing in the record supports petitioner’s claims. The petitioner’s filing of these proceedings in itself confirms the petitioner’s current status as living,” the court found.
While Schreiber might have thought he found a clever way to escape his sentence, Judge Amanda Potterfield found a logical flaw in the convict’s argument, which boiled down to “being held in prison illegally”.
“Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot,” Judge Potterfield explained in the ruling. Schreiber cannot be considered a "Schrödinger's prisoner". He's either alive or dead, he can't be both at the same time.
Schreiber has been in prison since 1996, when he was charged with the gruesome murder of John Dale Terry. The prosecutors argued that Schreiber plotted with Terry’s then-girlfriend to kill him. Schreiber bludgeoned him to death with the wooden handle of a pickax. Terry was 39 at the time.
[H/T: The Washington Post]