Chicago couple found guilty in Bali murder case

SHARE Chicago couple found guilty in Bali murder case

BALI, Indonesia — With a bulky pink bag slung over one shoulder and a tiny baby cradled in her arms, Heather Mack looked like a new mother going home from the hospital.

Home, for now, will be a prison, after an Indonesian court found the American teen guilty of premeditated murder. Tuesday, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison in the killing of her Chicago mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, on the resort island of Bali last August.

The Denpasar District Court sentenced Mack’s boyfriend and father of her baby, Tommy Schaefer, to 18 years in prison.

As she walked to a bus that would take her to prison, Mack smiled while picking her way past camera-wielding journalists eager for her thoughts.

Schaefer, walking separately, swatted reporters’ cameras. When he took his seat on the bus next to Mack and their daughter, Stella, a reporter asked if he was angry. Shaefer’s response: a raised middle finger.

The three-judge panel said it decided to be lenient toward Mack, 19, because she recently gave birth.

“Her newborn baby badly needs a mother’s love and breastfeeding,” the verdict said.

<small><strong>Tommy Schaefer of Chicago reacts during the verdict of his trial in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. | Firdia Lisnawati / AP</strong></small>

Tommy Schaefer of Chicago reacts during the verdict of his trial in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. | Firdia Lisnawati / AP

<small><strong>Heather Mack,19, of Chicago cries during her verdict hearing on April 21, 2015 in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. | Agung Parameswara / Getty Images</strong></small>

Heather Mack,19, of Chicago cries during her verdict hearing on April 21, 2015 in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. | Agung Parameswara / Getty Images

The court ruled that Schaefer, 21, was guilty of battering von Wiese-Mack, 62, to death in a hotel room at the St. Regis Bali Resort, and that his girlfriend Mack had helped with the Aug. 12 killing.

Her body was found stuffed in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi outside the resort. Schaefer and Mack were arrested the next day.

The couple, who both attended Oak Park-River Forest High School, were tried separately in the same court with the same judges and prosecutors. They have a week to decide whether to appeal the verdict.

Von Wiese-Mack reportedly did not approve of the couple’s relationship.

The charge of premeditated murder carries a maximum penalty of death. Prosecutors had sought an 18-year jail term for Schaefer and a 15-year sentence for Mack.

Presiding Judge Made Suweda described Schaefer’s deeds as sadistic, but said his politeness and expression of remorse during the trial meant he did not receive a heavier sentence.

HEATHER MACK STATEMENT Dear God, I know you don’t hear from me quite often, and I sometimes have acted like a jerk, but please have mercy on my soul and that of my daughter Stella, as I miss my mother and father so very much. Amen.

Schaefer testified at his trial that von Wiese-Mack was angry when she learned about her daughter’s pregnancy and tried to strangle him, prompting him to strike her with metal fruit bowl.

Prosecutors said Mack helped Schaefer stuff her mother’s body into the suitcase by sitting on it to enable Schaefer to close it. They then placed the suitcase in the trunk of the taxi and told the driver they were going to check out of the hotel and would return, but never did, prosecutors said.

They said Mack and Schaefer plotted to kill Mack’s mother because she didn’t endorse their relationship, and that Mack once proposed that Schaefer hire a hit man for $50,000.

Von Wiese-Mack was the widow of highly regarded jazz and classical composer James L. Mack, who died in 2006 at the age of 76.

One of Mack’s U.S.-based attorneys, Michael Elkin, said in a statement that he had asked how she felt, and she told him that she had prayed, saying the following:

“Dear God, I know you don’t hear from me quite often, and I sometimes have acted like a jerk, but please have mercy on my soul and that of my daughter Stella, as I miss my mother and father so very much. Amen.”

<small><strong>Heather Mack holds her baby daughter in a cell in Bali before her sentencing on Tuesday. | Agung Parameswara / Getty Images</strong></small>

Heather Mack holds her baby daughter in a cell in Bali before her sentencing on Tuesday. | Agung Parameswara / Getty Images

Contributing: FIRDIA LISNAWATI, Associated Press; Dailymail.co.uk; Stefano Esposito

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