On Friday, a federal jury found a former participant in the reality T.V. program “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” from St. Louis guilty of planning the shooting death of his nephew.
Welcome to Sweetie Pie
The family of former Ikette Robbie Montgomery is the subject of the American reality television program Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, which also focuses on the operation of their Sweetie Pie’s chain of soul food eateries. The show debuted on the Oprah Winfrey Network on October 15, 2011, and ran until June 9, 2018.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the jury took around 17 hours to deliberate over three days before rendering a decision in the James “Tim” Norman murder-for-hire case. He was accused of conspiring to conduct murder for pay, actually committing murder for hire, and conspiring to commit wire and mail fraud.
Both Norman and Andre Montgomery, his nephew, appeared in the enduring OWN reality series about a well-known soul-food restaurant started in the St. Louis region by Robbie Montgomery, Norman’s mother and Andre’s grandmother.
Although Norman could receive a sentence of up to life in prison, prosecutors are not asking for the death penalty. On December 15, judgment is expected.
According to federal prosecutors, Norman, 43, hired two assassins to murder Montgomery, 21, on March 14, 2016, and then attempted to collect a $450,000 life insurance policy on his nephew some months earlier.
After the verdict, defense lawyer Michael Leonard expressed his and Norman’s “great astonishment and disappointment in the outcome” of the case. He stated that they intended to appeal and that Norman was still confident that he would ultimately succeed.
According to Leonard, the testimony of two conspirators during their trial was “very non-credible.” Additionally, he noted that Norman was not cross-examined while testifying at trial and claimed Norman did so well.
Although U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming expressed her “very, very pleased Ness” with the verdict, she added that her office would not make any other statements until sentencing.
During the closing statements, Angie Danis, an assistant U.S. attorney, said that Norman was the mastermind behind the plot to murder Montgomery.
Danis remarked that Tim Norman’s selfishness is the only reason this scheme exists.
In his closing remarks, Leonard said that the prosecution’s murderous scheme was a “made-up notion.”
Norman testified at the trial that he assisted his nephew in relocating to St. Louis around 18 months before he was slain. He provided for him financially out of concern for Montgomery. He claimed he wanted to serve as the son of his brother’s “father figure.”
According to testimony from former Sweetie Pie’s staff members and other character witnesses, Norman and his nephew had a tight relationship.
Danis said that messages, call logs, and location information was used in court to support every co-conspirator’s testimony from the plan.
To all of these people, she claimed, Norman “crafted an image of being a mentor and a father figure, but it’s a fabrication.”
According to the prosecution, Norman paid $5,000 to Travell Anthony Hill to shoot Montgomery and $10,000 to exotic dancer Terica Ellis to entice his nephew to the location where he was shot.
Ellis and Hill both gave testimony in the case for the prosecution. Both of them have admitted to taking part in the program.
Hill admitted using drugs heavily and was “hopped up on drugs that day,” Leonard claimed in his closing remarks, adding that Ellis testified to obtain a lighter sentence.
In his testimony on Tuesday, Norman said that he purchased the life insurance policy for his nephew in order to boost business for Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam, a devoted patron of the family eateries.
In the case, Yaghnam entered a plea of guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit murder for hire in July.
Robbie Montgomery’s home was broken into in June 2015, and Montgomery departed St. Louis after at least $220,000 worth of cash, jewelry, and other goods were taken.
In order to find and confront his nephew about the heist, Norman said he and his mother engaged a private detective; nonetheless, Norman insisted that he had no intention of harming his nephew.