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Woman gets 26 years for helping kill her mother in Bali and stuffing body in suitcase

Heather Mack from Chicago, Ill., stands inside a cell before a trial in Bali, Indonesia, on March 11, 2015. Mack, who pleaded guilty to helping kill her own mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase during a luxury vacation in Bali, was sentenced by a federal judge, Wednesday to 26 years in prison.
Firdia Lisnawati
/
AP
Heather Mack from Chicago, Ill., stands inside a cell before a trial in Bali, Indonesia, on March 11, 2015. Mack, who pleaded guilty to helping kill her own mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase during a luxury vacation in Bali, was sentenced by a federal judge, Wednesday to 26 years in prison.

CHICAGO — An American woman who pleaded guilty to helping kill her own mother and stuffing the body in a suitcase during a luxury vacation in Bali was sentenced Wednesday in Chicago to 26 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors had recommended a 28-year prison sentence for Heather Mack for conspiring with her boyfriend to kill Sheila von Wiese-Mack in 2014.

Mack's attorney Michael Leonard said he expects Mack, 28, will be locked up for roughly 20 years including good behavior credits available to all federal prisoners. His estimate also accounts for the judge giving Mack credit for the two-plus years she spent in custody in Chicago after completing a jail term in Indonesia. She was deported to the U.S. in 2021.

Before her sentence was read, Mack apologized to her mother's brother and sister through tears.

"It breaks my heart hearing you cry," she told Debbi Curran, her aunt and Wiese-Mack's sister, who had audibly sobbed as her daughter read a victim impact statement on Curran's behalf.

"There's no excuse for trying to harm her," Mack said. "I miss and love my mother."

The government also wanted Mack to get five years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution of $262,708. In a filing last week, prosecutors said the recommended sentence was "warranted and sufficient, but not greater than necessary to serve a just and appropriate punishment for Mack's heinous crime."

The sentencing hearing began Wednesday morning with testimony from Bill Wiese, Wiese-Mack's brother and Mack's uncle. He asked Judge Matthew Kennelly to impose the maximum sentence possible, saying Mack has never shown remorse.

"If it were up to me, Heather would spend the rest of her life behind bars," Wiese said.

Mack, who wore an orange jumpsuit, orange slip-on shoes and glasses, remained mostly impassive as her uncle spoke, occasionally looking at attendees and giving small smiles to some.

Mack pleaded guilty last June to one count of conspiring to kill von Wiese-Mack with her then-boyfriend to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund. Prosecutors have said Mack, then 18 and pregnant, covered her mother's mouth while Tommy Schaefer bludgeoned Wiese-Mack with a fruit bowl in a hotel room.

Prosecutors said the killing had been planned for months

Prosecutors said Mack and Schaefer had planned the killing for months, and that video evidence showed the couple trying to get the small suitcase containing Wiese-Mack's body into an Indonesian taxicab.

"This was a brutal, premeditated crime," Kennelly said before sentencing Mack. He also ordered her to pay $262,708 in restitution and a $50,000 fine.

Mack, who lived with her mother in suburban Chicago's Oak Park, served seven years of her 10-year Indonesian sentence for her 2015 conviction of being an accessory to Wiese-Mack's murder.

Mack was deported in 2021 and her then-6-year-old daughter was with her when she was arrested on arrival at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The girl was placed with a relative after a custody fight.

Mack's lawyers had sought a 15-year prison term, but with credit for her seven years in the Indonesian prison.

Schaefer was convicted of murder and he is serving an 18-year sentence in Indonesia. He is charged in the same U.S. indictment. His mother, Kia Walker, was in the courtroom Wednesday for Mack's sentencing.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press

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