CHICAGO -- Heather Mack returned to a federal courtroom in Chicago Friday where she pleaded guilty to a U.S. charge in connection with the 2014 murder of her mother, Sheila von Wiese Mack, in Bali .
Heather Mack's attorneys said her main wish is to be re-united with her eight-year-old daughter as soon as possible and that this plea agreement will bring her closer to that dream.
Mack appeared in an orange jumpsuit and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to kill a United States national.
Under the plea deal between her lawyers and the government, the maximum prison term would be capped at 28 years, but if the judge disagrees with that at the sentencing hearing in December, Mack would have the ability to withdraw her guilty plea and go to trial.
Her attorneys are hopeful that will not happen as they plan to demonstrate at sentencing in part that she had a very troubled relationship with her mother and that she is a changed person.
"She is certainly not the same person she was," Michael Leonard, Mack's defense attorney, said. "She is much more mature. She's much more empathetic. She's grown as a human just like we all would do over the course of 10 years. We're all very different people from 18 to 28, so the judge is going to take all of those mitigating factors into consideration at the sentencing."
Mack, who is now 27 years old, was convicted in Indonesia in 2015 of being an accessory to her mother's murder at a luxury resort in Bali with her then boyfriend in order to gain access to a $1.5 million trust fund.
Sheila von Weise-Mack was found beaten to death and stuffed inside a suitcase.
Mack, who was 18 at the time, gave birth to a daughter in an Indonesian prison where she served seven year behind bars before she was deported.
Shortly after returning to the U.S., she was charged with conspiracy to commit murder which is the charge she pleaded guilty to Friday morning.
Under the plea agreement, the government dropped two other charges that could have carried a life sentence.
Sheila von Wiese-Mack's brother and sister attended the hearing Friday and made a brief statement afterwards.
"We are very relieved that the mastermind of Sheila's murder admitted her guilt today," Bill Wiese, Sheila von Wiese-Mack's brother. "We are hopeful for a sentence that more appropriately reflects the heinous and premeditated nature of the crime."
Mack's defense attorneys are hopeful the judge will give her credit for the seven years she served in Bali. She will get credit for the two-and-a-half years she has spent in federal custody. Her sentencing hearing is set for December 18.