The supposed death occurred in 2015 after he developed septic poisoning as a result of kidney stones, and after making a full recovery, he was returned to prison.
Benjamin Schreiber was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1996, after he clubbed a man to death with the handle of a pickax and left his body outside a trailer, the Des Moines Register reported.
But judges said Schreiber's bid - while original - was "unpersuasive". He lost consciousness in his cell and was taken to hospital.
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.
He has filed several unsuccessful appeals, but in 2018 he argued in court in Wapello County that he had been resuscitated against his will, and that because he had, his "sentence has expired". It's unclear whether Schreiber plans to take the case to a higher court.
His case was denied by the Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
A court in the USA has refused to release a convicted killer who argued that he had completed his life sentence when he briefly "died".
"Schreiber is either alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is dead, in which case this appeal is moot", the court said in a six-page ruling.
The appeals court said it did not believe lawmakers intended for the law dictating sentencing for the most serious felonies to be read as if defendants should be freed whenever medical procedures during their incarceration lead to their resuscitation by medical professionals.
Mr Schreiber's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment Friday, and a hospital spokesman said he did not immediately have a comment.