In federal court in Chicago on Friday, an American lady accused of aiding in the murder of her mother and packing the body in a bag on a lavish trip to Bali nine years prior changed her plea to guilty. Later, according to her attorney, she sought to escape receiving a life sentence in prison by doing this.
To gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund, Heather Mack admitted to planning to murder Sheila von Wiese-Mack on one count. Prosecutors claim that Mack, who was pregnant at the time and was 18 years old, shielded her mother’s mouth as Tommy Schaefer beat her with a fruit dish in a hotel room.
The change-of-plea hearing is the most recent development in a case that has attracted worldwide interest, partly because of images of the suitcase, which appeared too small to contain an adult woman’s body. Now 27 years old, Mack maintained her composure while answering the judge’s questions while wearing orange jail garb and slippers.
She said she was aware that she was giving up her right to remain silent during the hearing by responding. US district judge Matthew Kennelly took note of Mack’s uncertainty and asked her again whether she was sure she completely understood the plea agreement she had negotiated with the prosecutors in the weeks before. Mack paused before responding that she did understand it.
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“Yes, your honour,” she answered. She was acquitted of two further offences. After the sentence proceedings, Schaefer was found guilty of murder and is currently serving an 18-year term in Indonesia. In the same US indictment, he is accused. After the hearing, Wiese-Mack’s family released a statement expressing their relief that the murderer had finally accepted her guilt.
“We will continue to be our sister Sheila’s voice throughout the sentencing process to ensure that real justice is served,” they declared. The maximum term allowed by the plea agreement is 28 years, but Kennelly told Mack he hasn’t decided whether or not to accept that limit. Mack may change her plea, enter new plea negotiations, or proceed to trial if he rejects it. The judge scheduled the sentencing for December 18th.
If the years Mack spent in jail in Indonesia for a 2015 conviction of being an accessory to Wiese-Mack’s murder would be deducted from whatever US sentence is imposed by Kennelly was a crucial matter that was not resolved in discussions between prosecutors and the defence before Friday’s hearing.
Mack completed seven years of a ten-year sentence in Indonesia while residing in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, where she shared a home with her mother. She was deported in 2021, and US authorities detained her as soon as her flight touched down at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.
After the hearing, Mack’s attorney, Michael Leonard, said that his client entered a guilty plea in part to avoid receiving a life sentence, which would not be an option under the plea agreement, assuming the judge formally adopts it. Leonard stated that he would provide proof that Mack had improved and that she was “a fantastic mother” to her and Schaefer’s daughter, who she gave birth to in Indonesia following her imprisonment, in his request for leniency during the sentence.
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Leonard remarked, “She is not the same girl she was. She has developed as a person. When Mack was detained at the Chicago airport, her then-six-year-old daughter accompanied her. After a custody dispute, the girl was later placed with a relative. Leonard stated that Mack’s priority now was her kid because she could see her while serving her term in Indonesia.
Reuniting with her kid is most important to her, he said. Prosecutors said that Mack and Schaefer had been planning the murder for months when they successfully argued against the bond for Mack in 2021. Additionally, they claimed to have video evidence of Mack and Schaefer attempting to load Wiese-Mack’s body into a taxi in Indonesia.
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