US: Heather Mack: A woman from the United States has admitted guilt in the suitcase murder of her mother

US: Heather Mack: A woman from the United States has admitted guilt in the suitcase murder of her mother

By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria

In Chicago federal court on Friday, an American woman who was accused of helping her mother kill herself and putting her mother’s body in a suitcase while on a luxury vacation to Bali nine years ago changed her plea to guilty. Later, her lawyer said that by doing so, she hoped to avoid a life sentence.

In order to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund, Heather Mack pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack. Prosecutors claim that Mack, then 18 and pregnant, covered her mother’s mouth in a hotel room as her then-boyfriend Tommy Schaefer hit her with a fruit bowl.

The most recent chapter in a story that has attracted international attention is the change-of-plea hearing. In part, this is due to images of the suitcase, which appeared to be too small to hold an adult woman’s body.

Mack, now 27, gave the impression of being at ease as she answered the judge’s questions while wearing orange slippers and jail garb. She occasionally brushed her hair away from her eyes as she did so, indicating that she was aware that she was giving up her right to remain silent at the hearing.

Matthew Kennelly, a US district judge, noticed Mack’s hesitation before stating that she understood the plea agreement that she and prosecutors had negotiated in the weeks before and asked her once more if she was certain that she had fully understood it.

She said, “Yes, your honor,” in response.

At the conclusion of the sentencing process, Mack would be freed from two additional charges. Schaefer has been sentenced to 18 years in prison in Indonesia after being found guilty of murder. In the same US indictment, he faces charges.

Wiese-Mack’s family released a statement following the hearing, declaring that they were “very relieved that the mastermind of Sheila’s murder admitted her guilt today.”

They stated, “We will continue to be the voice of our sister Sheila throughout the sentencing process to ensure that real justice is served.”

Although Kennelly informed Mack that he has not yet decided whether or not to accept the 28-year maximum in the plea agreement, Mack could withdraw her plea, hold new plea negotiations, or proceed to trial if he rejects it. Sentencing was scheduled for December 18 by the judge.

Prior to Friday’s hearing, prosecutors and defense representatives discussed a key issue: whether Mack’s time in Indonesia for a 2015 conviction for being an accessory to Wiese-Mack’s murder would be deducted from any US sentence imposed by Kennelly.

Mack completed her 10-year Indonesian sentence while living with her mother in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago. She was deported in 2021, and shortly after her plane landed at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport, US authorities arrested her.

Michael Leonard, Mack’s attorney, told reporters after the hearing that Mack’s decision to plead guilty was influenced in part by his client’s desire to avoid a life sentence, which would not be possible under the plea deal if the judge formally approved it.

Leonard said that he would present evidence that Mack has matured and that she was “a fantastic mother” to Schaefer and their daughter, who she gave birth to in Indonesia after her arrest. He was arguing for leniency at the sentencing.

Leonard stated, “She is certainly not the person she was.” She has matured as a person.

When Mack was apprehended at the Chicago airport, she was accompanied by her then-six-year-old daughter. After a custody dispute, the girl was later placed with a relative.

Leonard said that Mack was able to spend time with her daughter while she was serving her sentence in Indonesia, and that now her child was her most important concern.

“The main thing for her is reunification with her little girl,” he said.

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