CHICAGO (STMW) — First, authorities say, Heather Mack murdered her mother at a luxury resort in Bali.
Now, the 19-year-old Chicago area woman wants the trust fund that her mother set up for her to pay for her criminal defense.
A lawyer for Heather Mack filed an emergency motion on Thursday in Cook County court seeking $150,000 from the $1.56 million trust fund overseen by her uncle, William A. Wiese, who is her mother’s brother.
Mack, who is 19 and pregnant, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, are charged with the murder of Mack’s mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, whose badly beaten body was found in a suitcase near a Bali resort last year where the three were staying. Mack’s murder trial is set to continue next week in Bali.
Mack, who says she’s innocent, thinks the funds are necessary to preserve her life because if convicted, she will likely be executed. She alleges that her boyfriend confessed to the murder.
In the motion, Mack contends that her uncle “has not released one penny” to help her pay for her criminal defense. She also alleges that her uncle faces a conflict of interest. He would become the sole inheritor of the largess if Mack were to be executed.
Wiese declined to comment Thursday night on his lawyer’s advice.
A court hearing on Mack’s motion is scheduled for Friday. Thursday’s court filing states that her uncle balked at releasing the funds because Mack fired her first defense team, affiliated with the international organization Reprieve U.S.
The nonprofit organization specializes in the legal defense of “individuals facing abusive detentions, extrajudicial killing and execution,” according to its website.
Instead, she hired Ary Soenardi, a Bali-based lawyer, according to his LinkedIn page.
Wiese “did not feel comfortable with Heather using said counsel” and requested that she use her initial defense team, court papers say.
“There was an irretrievable breakdown between the attorney and our client,” said Anthony R. Scifo, the attorney who filed the emergency motion on Mack’s behalf. “Heather has the right to obtain her own legal counsel.”
Soenardi initially requested a retainer of $300,000 and a portion of that money could have gone toward paying bribes, according to the court papers. Soenardi eventually agreed to a retainer of $150,000, but Wiese still refused to pay.
Scifo said Mack’s lawyers had negotiated with her uncle since November, but couldn’t reach an agreement to pay Soenardi’s retainer. If the money were to be disbursed, it would be placed in an escrow-like account with the U.S. Consulate, according to the court papers.
Though he hasn’t been paid, Soenardi represented Mack when she was charged. But according to the court filing, “it is unknown whether he is formally representing her and [he] may withdraw his representation” if “no funds will be made available.”
Murder charges were brought against Mack and Schaefer months after authorities discovered von Wiese-Mack’s body stuffed inside the suitcase.
Authorities say the couple hired a cab outside the St. Regis Bali Resort, placed the suitcase in the trunk and never returned to the cab.
Police say the couple had argued with Mack’s mother in the resort’s lobby shortly before the killing, which is alleged to have taken place inside a room at the hotel.
Oak Park Police reports and Cook County court records show von Wiese-Mack struggled to handle her daughter, with whom she had a volatile relationship. Especially after Heather’s father, the renowned composer James Mack, died in 2006 at age 76.
Heather Mack’s family received a $1.5 million settlement from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. after James Mack’s death. The family had filed a lawsuit revolving around a cut that James Mack suffered to his foot in a pool aboard the cruise ship, as well as alleged negligence by the on-board physician.
After he died, the suit was upgraded to a wrongful-death claim.
Records suggest Mack’s poor health before his death had a lasting impact on his daughter, whom he had doted on before falling ill.
But even before his death, police were being called to the family’s Oak Park home. Since January 2004, police were called to the home 86 times, often to deal with Heather Mack ’s violence toward her mother.
The two allegedly quarreled over homework, chores — and the mother’s accusations that her daughter stole cash and credit cards, according to police reports.
As recently as July, police were called after von Wiese-Mack discovered suspicious credit card charges billed to Conrad Chicago Hotel on Rush Street.
At the hotel, Chicago Police found Heather Mack and Schaefer partying with seven others in an eighth-floor room charged to the credit card.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)