Iowa Appeals Court rules against life inmate who says he died already

Cheryl Sanders
November 9, 2019

Schreiber is being held for the rest of his natural life at the Iowa State Penitentiary. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, and in 1997 he was sentenced to life without parole.

Schreiber has since argued that he's served his life sentence as a result.

Schreiber has been in prison since 1996. According to court records, he had developed kidney stones that were so large they "caused him to urinate internally". He was unconscious when he arrived to hospital.

But the 66-year-old claims that episode should be enough to fulfill his life sentence, since his life technically ended before it began again.


"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.

An Iowa man serving a life sentence for murder lost his appeal for freedom after unsuccessfully arguing that his sentence was fulfilled after his heart had to be restarted five times.

Schreiber's lawyer then took the case to the appeals court, which ruled Wednesday that the convict couldn't have it both ways.

The district court rejected Schreiber claim as 'unpersuasive and without merit'.


In Schreiber's claim, filed previous year, he said that he had been resuscitated against his will, and that his brief "death" meant that his life sentence had technically ended. The fact that Schreiber was able to file a legal motion petitioning for his release, the judge added, "in itself confirms the petitioner's current status as living".

The judges rejected his argument this week, ruling that a lower court had been right to dismiss his petition.

Schreiber's criminal defense attorney, Denise Gonyea, wasn't immediately available for comment on Friday.


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