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Bali Suitcase Murder: No Evidence Couple Planned Mother's Death, Says Defense

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Made Nagi/EPA/Landov

Attorneys for Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer, on trial in Indonesia for murdering Mack’s mother and stuffing her body in a suitcase, say there’s no evidence that the couple planned Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s death.

The bloodied body of 62-year-old von Wiese-Mack was discovered inside a suitcase in the back of a cab outside the Saint Regis Bali resort on Aug. 12. Mack, 19, and Schaefer, 21, were apprehended by police at another hotel shortly afterward. The pair, both from Chicago, are charged with premeditated murder, which carries a maximum death penalty, and are being tried separately.

A lawyer for Mack has said that Schaefer killed von-Wiese Mack after an argument over Mack’s pregnancy. Mack hid in the bathroom of the hotel’s suite after the fight turned violent, according to her lawyer.

“It was all a blur and she acted like a robot,” said attorney Raja Nasution. “She was torn between her own mother and the father of her baby.” The 19-year-old recently welcomed a daughter.

Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty in the case, though they are asking for hefty jail sentences if the couple are found guilty: 18 years for Schaefer and 15 for Mack.

They insist the murder was planned, citing testimony from witnesses as well as messages between the couple. “The defendant has clearly provided assistance,” chief prosecutor Eddy Arta Wijaya said Thursday of Mack, the Associated Press reports.

But defense attorneys have in turn asked for leniency. “The defendant still regrets and feels sad over the death of her late mother,” lawyer Aro Soenardi said. “As the only child, the defendant has lost the love of a mother.”

A hearing has been set for Tuesday before the judges are expected to deliver their verdict.

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