ST. LOUIS — A high-profile murder-for-hire case in St. Louis will continue for another day, as jurors were unable to come to a verdict Wednesday evening.
James Timothy "Tim" Norman is on trial and accused of being behind a murder-for-hire scheme to kill his nephew Andre Montgomery Jr. in 2016. Closing arguments were delivered Wednesday morning, and the case was handed over to the jury at around noon.
In an unexpected move just one day prior, Norman testified in his own case.
Norman and his family were first in the spotlight for the reality TV show "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, which aired for several seasons.
The defendant is now charged with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire, resulting in death. He's also charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.
Court documents show Norman took out a life insurance policy on Montgomery for $450,000 two years before the shooting.
Three others have been charged and pleaded guilty to their roles.
Wednesday evening, jurors deliberated until about 5:45 but could not come to a decision. They will return Thursday to continue deliberations.
Assistant U.S. attorney Angie Danis says the biggest piece of evidence against Norman is the five policy applications applied 18 months prior to his nephew’s murder.
Danis called the crime an execution and said Norman saw the opportunity to cash in at the time of Montgomery's death.
She told the jury the wire fraud conspiracy is the root of it all.
Danis said Norman and his agent made false statements on the applications, never shared this application process to Montgomery and his mother, and hid the process.
The prosecutors also said Norman made false impersonations. The contact number for Montgomery was Norman's own personal cell phone number.
Danis also shared text messages from Norman telling his agent he finished the interview process.
The insurance company Americo documented at the same time that it wrapped up a personal health interview with who they thought was Montgomery.
"He was a willing participant in impersonating his nephew," Danis said.
Beyond that, she pointed out how an agent with Foresters Financial testified that Norman called four days after the death of Montgomery to get the money.
Days later, "he tried to get his death certificate but Andre was not even in the ground," Danis said.
The prosecution also went through the day of the murder by looking at flight information placing Norman in St. Louis at the time, tracking down cell phone records, and using Google account information to access pictures.
"He is the architect of this plan – causing encouraging and aiding this scheme," Danis told the jury, asking for them to make a guilty verdict.
Defense closing arguments
Defense attorney Michael Leonard used his entire 45-minute closing argument and recounted several testimonies.
He talked about every single person on the stand talking about Norman's character.
Norman was described as a mentor, gentle, and a good person.
Leonard also questioned the credibility of key witnesses Terica Ellis and Travell Hill.
Both have already pleaded guilty to their roles as a co-conspirator and the alleged shooter.
"They want you to believe there was this whole mastermind plan," Leonard said.
He said Ellis lied about where she got $10,000.
Ellis testified she got it from Norman to help find his nephew, but Leonard said she got that money from Norman to open up a boutique and received other funds from stripping and sleeping with men.
In Hill's testimony, he talked about being on ecstasy during the murder. It's a drug he said he used daily and frequently.
Leonard called out his credibility and claimed he was so messed up he didn't remember parts of the day and questioned his memory.
As for the burner phones used on the day of the murder, Leonard said Norman admitted using burner phones to seal his infidelities because he had a serious girlfriend at the time.
Leonard also blamed the life insurance applications created and pointed the finger to Norman's insurance agent, who already pleaded guilty for his role.
Leonard closed out his arguments asking for the jury to consider all this information carefully and to come up with a not guilty verdict.
Danis closed out their final argument by saying they knew Norman wanted the job done because the alleged shooter received $5,000 two days after the shooting through Norman's friend.
She further explained that the defense's argument was largely based on Norman's testimony.
"The defendant spun tales to you for four hours but that does not create a reasonable doubt," Danis added.
She pointed out several flaws:
- Norman testified he didn't know insurance information but Danis pointed out he filed an application in 2012 for himself and lied about his criminal history on the application.
- Danis said that for days the defense highlighted the financial success Norman had, but she claimed it wasn’t real and Norman had an American Express judgement for more than $215,000.
- Danis insinuated he was a liar because Norman lied to his girlfriends and lied to his lawyer. Norman claimed he was in California at the time of his nephew's death but Norman's flight and cell phone records showed he was in St. Louis
- She said the only time Norman became emotional was when he was talking about himself or the alleged shooter. "He did not tear up or show an emotion for Montgomery," she said.
Closing arguments adjourned at noon. The jury now has the case and deliberations are underway.
As of 3 p.m., the jury came in to ask a question of the judge. They asked for some exhibits, including an insurance contract, Southwest Airlines flight records and texts between Norman and his attorney.
At around 3:30 p.m., the jury asked for all the text message exhibits.
Jurors deliberated until about 5:45 but could not come to a decision. They will return Thursday to continue deliberations.
5 On Your Side will provide updates as they become available.