CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago-area teen accused of killing her mother on the Indonesian island of Bali can use her trust fund money for her legal defense, a judge ruled Friday.
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen said that 19-year-old Heather Mack can use at least some of the $1.56 million to pay legal fees despite the objection of her uncle, William Wiese, the trustee of his slain sister's estate.
The judge appointed an interim trustee to review the hiring of a new attorney for Mack and said the details of how much money will be paid out from the trust fund would be decided at a hearing in Chicago next week.
Separate trials began in Indonesia on Wednesday for Mack, who is now seven months' pregnant, and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Tommy Schaefer, on charges of premeditated murder. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.
They were arrested last August after the badly beaten body of 62-year-old Sheila von Wiese-Mack was found in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi outside a luxury hotel. In the indictments, prosecutors said the couple plotted the slaying because von Wiese-Mack did not endorse their relationship.
At Friday's hearing in Chicago, Mack's attorney raised questions about her current lawyer in Bali, saying Mack hired the man after hearing he represented several international drug smugglers.
"This is getting to be like a script from a Grade B, film noir novel," the judge commented.
Mack and Schaefer are expected to enter pleas when the trials resume next week.