Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer face lengthy prison terms if convicted of murder – but won't face a firing squad

By Steve Helling
March 31, 2015 02:05 PM
Firdia Lisnawati/AP

For now, the death penalty is off the table in the case of the Bali Suitcase Murder.

In court on Tuesday, Indonesian prosecutors announced that they will seek jail sentences of 18 years for Tommy Schaefer and 15 years for Heather Mack if they are convicted of murdering Mack’s mother while vacationing in Bali last year.

Prosecutors told the court that Schaefer and Mack were guilty of the premeditated murder of 62-year-old Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose badly beaten body was found in a suitcase.

Earlier this month, Schaefer testified that von Weise-Mack had gotten angry upon finding out her daughter was pregnant. He testified that she had threatened to kill their unborn baby, called him a racial slur and tried to strangle him for nearly 30 seconds.

Schafer admits to hitting von Weise-Mack repeatedly with a metal fruit bowl. When he noticed she wasn’t breathing, he began CPR. Mack also tried to revive her mother.

Schaefer, 21, and Mack, 19, both from Chicago, are being tried separately. The judges and prosecutors are the same in both trials.

The young couple became parents when the baby, a girl named Stella, was born on March 18. Baby Stella has been living with her mother in prison; officials at the jail reportedly allow new mothers to spend the first two years of their lives with their infants.

But despite the prosecution’s request to sentence Schaefer and Mack to prison, a panel of judges could overrule them and decide to impose the maximum penalty if they’re convicted: death by a firing squad.

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