Judge Approves Release of $150K From Trust Fund to Pay for Teen Murder Suspect's Defense - NBC Chicago

Judge Approves Release of $150K From Trust Fund to Pay for Teen Murder Suspect's Defense



    Judge OKs Murder Suspect's Request For Trust Fund Money

    A Cook County judge on Friday approved an emergency motion filed on behalf of a teen accused of killing her mother in Bali and stuffing the body in a suitcase, tentatively allowing the release of up to $150,000 from the mother's estate to help pay for the teen's defense. (Published Friday, Jan. 16, 2015)

    A Cook County judge on Tuesday approved the release of $150,000 from a suburban teen's trust fund to help pay for the teen's defense after she was accused of killing her mother in Bali and stuffing the body in a suitcase.

    The move comes after Judge Neil Cohen approved an emergency motion Friday allowing 19-year-old Heather Mack to use money from her mother's estate to help pay for her legal fees in Indonesia. Cohen put stipulations on his ruling, however, mandating that Mack have a dedicated Indonesian-based attorney to represent her during trial. Concerns have been expressed that the Bali lawyer that Mack has considered hiring has been known to represent drug smugglers.

    "Funds can be used for hiring competent counsel," said Cohen. "We need someone who's for Heather and only Heather."

    The judge also approved Mack's request for additional money from her trust to pay for food and other living expenses. The approval allows for $2,240 for living expenses, but Mack must provide bills for the money and is not allowed to share it.

    Bali Suitcase Murder Trial Begins in Indonesia

    [CHI] Bali Suitcase Murder Trial Begins in Indonesia
    An American couple went on trial in Indonesia on Wednesday on charges of murdering the woman's mother last year on the resort island of Bali. Chris Coffey reports.
    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015)

    The next status hearing in the case in Cook County is scheduled for Feb. 20.

    Mack's initial motion, filed Thursday, alleged that her uncle, William Wiese, has denied access to funds in the $1.56 million estate that could be used to provide for her "health, support, and maintenance." Wiese is the brother of Mack's slain mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, and the trustee of her estate.

    Mack stated that if "convicted of the murder of my mother in Indonesia, it is probable I will receive the death penalty by firing squad." She also said that that if she and her unborn child die, her uncle stands to inherit the funds of the trust.

    Cohen on Friday named an interim trustee to avoid a conflict of interest.

    Mack and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, both face the death penalty if convicted in von Wiese-Mack's August death. Separate trials for both defendants began earlier this week in Denpasar District Court in Bali, Indonesia.

    The pair were arrested on Aug. 13, a day after the 62-year-old mother's body was found stuffed in a suitcase in a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort. In indictments, prosecutors said the couple plotted the murder because von Wiese-Mack did not endorse their relationship.

    Mack is named as the sole beneficiary in von Wiese-Mack's will, last updated in May. The teen originally sought $300,000 from her mother's estate to help pay for legal bills but later reduced her request to about half that amount.

    Wiese declined to provide any money to an account with the U.S. Consulate, the motion stated.

    "To date, (the trustee) has not released one penny to assist Heather in any way, shape or form," attorney Tony Scifo wrote. "Said legal funds are a necessity to preserve Heather's life ... (The trustee's) actions do not comport with good faith or fair dealings and are wholly unconscionable."

    Mack, who says she is innocent, says that her boyfriend confessed to the murder.

    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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