CHICAGO (CBS) — A 19-year-old Chicago woman facing murder charges in the death of her mother in Bali has been given access to more than $150,000 from her mother’s estate to pay her legal expenses in Indonesia.
Heather Mack and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, have been accused of beating Mack’s mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack to death while vacationing at a Bali resort last year.
The two were being tried separately, and last week Mack sought access to her trust fund — as the sole beneficiary of her mother’s estate — to pay her legal bills. Mack’s uncle, William Wiese was the trustee of von Wiese-Mack’s estate, and had been denying Mack access to the trust fund.
On Friday, Cook County Associate Judge Judge Neil Cohen ruled Mack has a right to use the inheritance money to pay her attorney, but appointed an interim trustee to look into hiring a new attorney for Mack, saying he believed the lawyer she had hired in Bali was not trustworthy.
On Tuesday, Cohen said “the money is hers,” as is her choice of attorney, and he ordered the trustee of the estate to disburse $152,240 in three weekly installments — $150,000 for legal fees and $2,240 for food. Mack’s attorney in Chicago said Mack is seven months pregnant, due to deliver on April 1, and her attorney in Chicago said she won’t receive adequate nutrition in jail without outside help.
Cohen expressed concern in her choice of an attorney who specializes in international drug cases, saying that lawyer might not be the best for a murder trial, but said it’s Mack’s decision to make.
Cohen stressed the money from Mack’s trust fund must benefit her alone, not Schaefer.
Mack and Schaefer will be tried separately. They allegedly argued with von Wiese-Mack about vacation expenses before killing her, stuffing her body in a suitcase, and abandoning it at an upscale resort after hailing a taxi, and then fleeing the hotel.
The two are being tried separately, and it could take four months for the trials to be completed, under Indonesia’s customary schedule of one trial day per week.