Chicago teen, accused of killing her mother, can use trust fund for defense, judge says

CHICAGO -- Heather Mack, a 19-year-old from Chicago who is accused of murdering her mother in Indonesia, has the right to use her trust fund money to obtain counsel of her own choice, according to Judge Neil H. Cohen of the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago.

Mack's lawyer filed an emergency motion Thursday asking for $150,000 from the trust fund, which is overseen by her uncle.

Judge Cohen said Mack has a right to choose her own counsel as "a bedrock value of the U.S. justice system." He also expressed concern that Mack's proposed Indonesian attorney is looking at her trust fund as a "goose that laid the golden egg." Cohen expressed concern that the trust money may be used for bribes.

With the trial set to resume next week in Indonesia, Judge Cohen says time is short to come to an agreement on whom the overseas counsel should be.

Mack and her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer, 21, are accused of murdering Mack's mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, last August in Bali. Mack and Schaefer were arrested in Bali after investigators found the badly beaten body of von Wiese-Mack stuffed inside a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside the St. Regis Bali Resort.

Mack and Schaefer are charged with premeditated murder, which carries a possible death penalty under Indonesian law. On Wednesday, when the trial began, Mack and Schaefer said they understood the charges. They are expected to enter pleas next week.

Prosecutors say the couple killed von Wiese-Mack because she did not approve of their relationship. They allege that Mack, who is now seven months pregnant, once suggested that Schaefer hire someone to kill her mother for $50,000.

The couple is being tried separately by the same prosecutors in front of the same judge at the Denpasar District Court.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.