US man testifies victim strangled him, threatened baby

AP News
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Posted: Mar 12, 2015 10:47 AM
US man testifies victim strangled him, threatened baby

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — An American man charged with murdering his girlfriend's mother told an Indonesian court Thursday he was angry after the victim threatened to kill his unborn baby and strangled him hard for about half a minute.

Tommy Schaefer, 21, and Heather Mack, 19, are being tried separately by Denpasar District Court, where they are charged with premeditated murder for the death of Sheila von Wiese-Mack last August in Bali. They could face a firing squad if found guilty. The victim's badly beaten body was found in a suitcase on a taxi.

Testifying at the trial of Mack, Schaefer told the court their relationship was not endorsed by his girlfriend's mother.

Schaefer said he visited Bali to meet with Mack who was already in Bali.

After meeting with Mack at the hotel, they discussed how to inform von Wiese-Mack that Mack was pregnant and agreed to meet in the hotel room where Mack and her mother were staying.

Speaking through an interpreter, Schaefer said Mack asked him to bring a metal fruit bowl, which he hid under his shirt as a "precaution."

Asked by a judge why it was hidden, Schaefer answered that he was not sure whether he would use it or not to protect himself.

According to Schaefer, he arrived in the room and found Mack weeping. He did not know why, but also saw that Mack's mother was screaming.

"She (von Wiese-Mack) was angry at me when she knew that Heather was pregnant," Schaefer said, while trying to hold back tears. Mack, who was sitting beside her lawyer, sobbed at the testimony.

He said that the victim insulted him using a racial slur and described her daughter as a prostitute who liked a black man.

He said the situation got heated when von Wiese-Mack asked her daughter for an abortion or to kill the unborn baby. Schaefer said that led to a quarrel in which von Wiese-Mack strangled him hard for about 30 seconds.

"I was angry, I took the fruit bowl and hit her," Schaefer said, in tears.

He added that he did not remember how many times he hit the victim. After acknowledging she wasn't breathing, he tried to give her artificial respiration, while Mack, who had run in panic into the bathroom for about three minutes, came back and tried to revive her mother.

He said he was trembling and scared and called 911 on his mobile phone before realizing that he was not in the United States.

According to the indictment, Schaefer battered von Wiese-Mack with the metal bowl following an argument over the hotel bill.

It says Mack helped 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 a taxi and told the driver they were going to check out of the hotel and would return, but never did, it says.