April 20, 2015 / 12:08 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. pair accused in Bali suitcase murder may hear verdicts Tuesday

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court is expected to deliver its verdicts on Tuesday on a U.S. couple accused in connection with the gruesome murder of an American woman whose body was stuffed into a suitcase on the resort island of Bali.

U.S. citizen Tommy Schaefer walks after his trial in the Denpasar district court on the Indonesian island of Bali April 7, 2015, in this picture taken by Antara Foto. REUTERS/Nyoman Budhiana/Antara Foto

Chicago-area pair Tommy Schaefer and Heather Mack, who are being tried separately, were arrested in August after hotel staff discovered the body of Mack’s mother, Sheila von Wiese-Mack, in a suitcase in a taxi.

Prosecutors have called for an 18-year prison sentence for Schaefer, who has been charged with premeditated murder. He says he killed Wiese-Mack in self-defense after she attacked him in anger because she objected to the couple’s relationship.

The maximum penalty for premeditated murder in Indonesia is death by firing squad.

Mack, who recently gave birth, faces the lesser charge of being an accessory to murder and faces a maximum 15 years in prison.

A panel of three judges is expected to announce its verdicts in Denpasar District Court, but it was not clear if the couple would be sentenced the same day.

Bali police, assisted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted a four-month investigation into the killing, including a re-enactment with the defendants at the luxury hotel where the body was found with bruises on her arms and broken fingers.

Other evidence submitted to prosecutors included CCTV footage showing the couple speaking to a taxi driver after dropping the bloodied suitcase along with other luggage outside the hotel.

Mack and her mother had a troubled relationship and von Wiese-Mack had frequently reported that her daughter punched and bit her, according to police reports cited by Chicago media.

Von Wiese-Mack’s husband and Heather’s father, classical music composer James Mack, died in 2006.

Reporting by Trisha Sertori in DENPASAR; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Nick Macfie

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