Inmate Argues His Life Sentence Has Been Served After He Briefly Died

Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s AC/DC, “Have a Drink on Me.” You heard Boston, “Rock and Roll Band” before that. I’m Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday Rocking your Ride Home. Earlier, I was reading a story about a guy who’s trying to get out of a life sentence due to the fact that he died briefly, and I thought that was an excellent question for my friends at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Got Paul Harding on the phone right now. Paul, how are you doing?

Paul: Hey, Joe. Good. How are you?

Joe: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. Thank you for taking my phone call.

Paul: Of course.

Joe: I got a crazy legal question for you.

Paul: I’m always ready.

Joe: Okay. So this story is in regards to a guy by the name of Benjamin Schreiber, who is an inmate in the Iowa State Penitentiary, and Ben is serving a life sentence for bludgeoning a man to death with an ax handle.

Paul: Oh boy.

Joe: Nice guy. Nice guy, Ben.

Paul: Yeah, sweet.

Joe: Anyways, he’s making the claim though that he should be set free, and this is the reason why. A couple of years ago, he got septic poisoning and actually died. His heart stopped beating, and the doctors were able to revive him. So he’s serving a life sentence, but his life ended and then came back. And he said, because of that, he should be released from prison. And so I guess my question is, is he right?

Paul: Well, he certainly gets points for creativity. So he’s serving a life sentence. His argument is, “Well, my life ended,” whether it was for minutes, presumably, “and then I came back to life, so all my…” boy, wouldn’t that be easy, right? You’re gonna get all your past deeds forgiven just a couple of days or a couple of minutes and deep sleep.

Joe: Do you get a tax break for dying, I guess?

Paul: Perhaps, any outstanding tax bills are gone, yeah, all that stuff. So I mean, I think…well, I mean, he, in some process, came up with a good idea. He’s dealing with his life sentence, no doubt. And I think he is gonna find it, they’ll get…again, they’re gonna look at this and say, “Good try, but you’re committed to a life sentence, and you’re still living.”

Joe: Right.

Paul: You know, you might have had a temporary few moments where you technically were not.

Joe: It’s amazing how often, you know, one of the things that I’m really getting from these chats that I’m having with you and with them is that how often common sense applies when it comes to, you know. You’d think that you’d see a lot more absolutes in the law, but what I’m getting from these discussions is that that’s not really true. Common sense does apply in a lot of these cases.

Paul: Yeah, you know. And I found that when I went to law school, also when I got out of it, it’s almost like there are technical rules, and you know, the rules have to be followed. But at the end of the day, when you get to these judgment calls, it’s pretty much what virtually everyone would agree is true, and that turns out to be where the courts go. It tends to be the way the law unfolds. And there are exceptions to it, but you’re absolutely right. When you think of law, you think, “Oh, you got on a technicality.” Well, there are some procedural things in the criminal system that you need to adhere to, but in terms of outcomes, what you think is gonna happen normally happens.

Joe: Right. So we’re not gonna see Benjamin Schreiber out on the streets any time soon.

Paul: No, he won’t. But you know, I gotta tell you, he’s super…what an argument?

Joe: A for creativity.

Paul: Yeah. He should have used that for good, not for evil. He might have been something.

Joe: All right. Thanks a lot, Paul. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Paul: Joe, thank you. Talk soon.

Joe: You, of course, can call the fine lawyers of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at any time at 1800-LAW-1010. All right, I’m out of here. Mel Allen taking over from here. He’s got music from Van Halen and Metallica next.