Bellboy, others testify at trial of US man accused of killing girlfriend's mother in Indonesia



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BALI, Indonesia — A bellboy at an Indonesian hotel testified Thursday that an American man charged with murdering his girlfriend's mother and stuffing the body into a suitcase refused any help in taking a bag to a taxi outside the hotel.

Tommy Schaefer, 21, and Heather Mack, 19, are charged with premeditated murder in the death of Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose badly beaten body was found in a suitcase in a taxi at the St. Regis hotel on the resort island of Bali last August.

They are being tried separately by the Denpasar District Court and face possible death by firing squad if found guilty.

The first witness to testify at Schaefer's trial, a bellboy named Arifin, said he saw the couple taking a suitcase on a baggage cart toward the lobby on Aug. 12.

He said he asked them about the hotel bill, which according to a receptionist hadn't been paid, but Mack refused to respond.

"They asked me to call a taxi, but they refused when I offered to help put the bag into the taxi," he said. "They argued that the contents were fragile, and refused to be assisted."

Arifin, who uses a single name, said he heard about the murder later from police.

The second witness was I Putu Adi Marta, a technician who examined the hotel's security videos on Aug. 12.

"I was asked to check because a couple, a man and a woman, were said to have escaped without paying the hotel bill," he said.

Marta said the video recordings showed that Schaefer and Mack used the emergency stairs several times to go between the third and sixth floors. Mack and her mother were staying in a room on the third floor, while Schaefer was staying on the sixth floor.

"The man walked up and down from the third to the sixth floor, changed his shirt once and brought a white cloth," he said. "They also were shown bringing a large package from the third to the sixth floor."

A police officer also testified that he was among five police who arrested the couple on Aug. 13 at the Bali Wisata Hotel in the Kuta area, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the St. Regis hotel.

"First they refused to be taken without being accompanied by lawyers from their government," I Made Ariyana said. He said they also refused to talk or be photographed at the Kuta police station.

Schaefer did not object to any of the testimony.

Prosecutors said before visiting Bali, Mack had suggested that Schaefer hire someone for $50,000 to kill her mother, who objected to their relationship.

According to the indictment, Schaefer battered von Wiese-Mack with a fruit bowl handle in her room following an argument over the hotel bill.

It says Mack, who is seven months' pregnant, helped stuff her mother's body into the suitcase by sitting on it to enable Schaefer to close it.

The indictment says they then placed the suitcase in the trunk of a taxi and told the driver they were going to check out of the hotel and would return, but never did.

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