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Judge: Hearing required before estate will fund appeal

Attorneys for Heather Mack were in a Cook County courtroom on Wednesday, asking Judge Neil Cohen to release another $200,000 from Mack’s trust fund to help pay her Indonesian attorney to pursue an appeal of her murder conviction.

They didn’t get it. Cohen said he is unsure whether Mack’s conviction in the death of her mother would be considered first- or second-degree murder under Illinois law, and therefore that issue requires a hearing to be held at a later date.

Mack and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, were convicted last month of the premeditated murder of her mother, Stephanie von Wiese-Mack. The woman’s battered body was found stuffed in a bloody suitcase outside a hotel on the resort island of Bali last year.

Cohen then had a testy exchange with Michael Elkin, an attorney for Mack, whom he accused of yelling, interrupting and grandstanding. Elkin tried to argue that the release of the money was taking too long. In a letter seeking the $200,000 in legal fees, Mack’s lawyer in Indonesia, Ary Soenardi, said he would continue to represent Mack on appeal only if his fee was “paid quickly.”

Cohen says the issue is whether Mack’s actions are determined to be aiding and abetting or whether she is accountable “as if she killed her mother herself.”

The judge says if Heather is accountable for the killing, “she gets nothing.”

Mack’s attorneys said they are worried that without further payment, the Indonesian attorney will no longer represent Mack.

Cohen declared: “Too bad,” noting that Mack’s attorneys have received $150,000 from the fund already.

“He (lawyer) is getting nothing until this is resolved,” judge said.

Mack and Schaefer both attended Oak Park-River Forest High School.