Chicago Couple Sentenced to Prison in Bali Suitcase Killing - NBC Chicago

Chicago Couple Sentenced to Prison in Bali Suitcase Killing

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    Chicago Couple Sentenced to Prison in Bali Suitcase Killing
    AP

    An Indonesian court found an American couple guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced them to prison on Tuesday in the killing of the woman's mother on the resort island of Bali.

    The Denpasar District Court sentenced Tommy Schaefer to 18 years in prison and Heather Mack to 10 years for intentionally killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack while vacationing last August. The badly battered body was found stuffed in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort.

    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.

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

    Schaefer and Mack, both from Chicago, were tried separately in the same court with the same judges and prosecutors.

    They were arrested a day after the body of von Wiese-Mack, 62, was found in the suitcase in the taxi's trunk.

    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.

    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 replied that she had prayed 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." 

    Editor's Note: This report was published April 21, 2015.

    Complete Coverage: Bali Suitcase Murder

    04/21/15: Couple Found Guilty 

    04/14/15: Lawyers Seek Leniency for  Couple

    04/09/15: Prosecutors Insist Murder Was Planned

    03/31/15: Prosecutors Seek 18-Year Sentences

    03/27/15: Baby Stella Sick With Jaundice

    03/25/15: Baby Stella Rushed to Hospital: Report

    03/20/15: Mack "Ecstatic" to be a Mom, Lawyer Says

    03/19/15: Emails Show Concern Months Before Bali Slaying

    03/18/15: Mack's Baby Could Stay Behind Bars

    03/17/15: Heather Mack Gives Birth

    03/12/15: Schaefer Says von Wiese-Mack Attacked Him, Threatened Baby

    03/11/15: Mack Says Schaefer Killed Her Mother

    02/27/15: Teen Charged in Bali Murder is Suicidal, Attorney Says

    02/26/15: Bell Boy, Police Testify in Tommy Schaefer Trial

    02/06/15: Heather Mack Hospitalized

    02/04/15: Heather Mack: "I Loved My Mom"

    02/02/15: Trial of Chicago Couple Charged in Bali Murder Ordered to Proceed

    01/20/15: Judge Approves Release of $150K From Trust Fund

    01/16/15: Murder Suspect Sues Slain Mother's Estate to Pay For Defense

    01/14/15: Bali Suitcase Murder Trial Begins in Indonesia

    10/03/14: Suspect in Bali Suitcase Murder Says Slur Sparked Anger

    09/23/14: Lawyer: Unborn Child of Bali Murder Suspect is "Well-Formed"

    09/22/14: Lawyer Refutes Reports That Bali Murder Suspect Confessed

    09/19/14: Chicago Suspect Confesses in Bali Killing, Police Say

    08/27/14: Mother of Bali Murder Suspect Raises Money for Legal Defense

    08/26/14: Will of Chicago Woman Killed in Bali Filed in Court

    08/21/14: Police Say Disagreement Preceded Bali Suitcase Death

    08/20/14: Report: Chicago Woman Slain in Bali Received Over $800K

    08/20/14: Attorney: Couple Held in Bali Death Under Suicide Watch

    08/19/14: Police Reports Show History of Oak Park Teen Attacking Mom

    08/18/14: Pregnant Bali Murder Suspect Alleges Sexual Assault in Jail

    08/18/14: Body of Mom Slain in Bali En Route to U.S.

    08/16/14: Autopsy: Chicago Woman Killed in Bali Was Hit by "Blunt Object"

    08/16/14: Bali Murder Suspects Refuse to Cooperate, Police Say

    08/15/14: Teen Charged in Bali Murder May Be Pregnant

    08/15/14: Daughter, Boyfriend Charged With Murder in Bali Suitcase Killing

    08/14/14: Pair Held in Suitcase Death Have Had Psychiatric Examinations

    08/14/14: Bali Murder Suspect Hires Chicago Attorney

    08/13/14: Bali Murder Suspects Refuse to Cooperate: Police

    08/13/14: Chicago Tourist Killed, Stuffed in Suitcase in Indonesia



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