An Iowa prisoner serving a life sentence argued he had paid his debt to society - after "dying" momentarily in hospital.
The judges said Schreiber's bid - while original - was "unpersuasive".
Benjamin Schreiber, 66, had to be resuscitated five times in 2015 when his heart stopped after he developed septic poisoning.
Benjamin Schreiber was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1997 after being convicted of first-degree murder.More news: Know How Artificial Intelligence in Telecommunication Market Is Thriving Continuously
Schreiber's lawyer then took the case to the appeals court, which ruled Wednesday that the convict couldn't have it both ways.
District judges found little merit in Schreiber's argument, saying his filing confirmed he was still among the living. And on Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision.
Schreiber is behind bars, sentenced for life without parole, for the 1996 murder of a man with an axe handle.
An attorney for Schreiber did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday morning.More news: SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son on WeWork Investment: 'Judgment Was Poor'
In March 2015, Mr Schreiber, who is being held at the Iowa State Penitentiary, was taken to a hospital after having seizures and a high fever, according to his petition.
For the three-judge panel, justice Amanda Potterfield wrote: "We do not believe the legislature intended this provision, which defines the sentences for the most serious class of felonies under Iowa law and imposes its "harshest penalty".to set criminal defendants free whenever medical procedures during their incarceration lead to their resuscitation by medical professionals".
They said that he was "unlikely" to be dead, as he had signed his own legal documents in the case. It added that his sentence would not end until a medical examiner formally declared him dead.More news: Japan 'specs ban' for women at work sparks backlash
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