Teen charged with killing mother in Bali allowed defense fund

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2015 4:40 PM

By Mark Guarino

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Chicago-area woman will be allowed access to about 10 percent of her $1.56 million trust fund to help pay for her defense on murder charges in the death of her mother at an Indonesian resort, an Illinois judge ruled on Tuesday.

Heather Mack, 19, is accused of murdering her mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, while on vacation at a luxury resort in Bali last August. The mother's dismembered body was found inside a bloody suitcase outside the resort.

Mack, who was charged alongside her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, says she is innocent. The trial starts in Bali this month and is expected to last four months. If convicted, both Mack and her boyfriend could be given the death penalty.

In Illinois, Judge Neil Cohen ruled on Tuesday that Mack can have access to $150,000 of her trust fund to pay legal bills and food costs. But Cohen said Mack must provide itemized bills to show the trust money was used only for her defense and food.

He also stipulated the money could not be used for legal bills for Schaefer, 21, who also is charged with murder.

Mack is the sole beneficiary of her mother's trust, which is administered by William Wiese, the brother of von Wiese-Mack. Her father was James Mack, a renowned jazz and classical music composer in Chicago who died in 2006.

Mack was detained for four months while Bali officials conducted an investigation that led to the charges against her. Two Chicago attorneys have stepped in to represent Mack.

Last Saturday, Mack's Chicago-based attorney, Anthony Scifo, released a statement asking attorneys "with murder trial experience in Indonesia" to contact his office. He said candidates would be required to agree to "an anti-corruption and anti-bribery clause."

Neither Scifo nor Michael Elkin, her other attorney, immediately responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mark Guarino; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)