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'It’s odd': Life insurance experts take the stand at Sweetie Pie's murder-for-hire trial

A life insurance employee disclosed how an accident could include homicide and a beneficiary would make more money if an accident happened.

ST. LOUIS — Wednesday was day two of the Sweetie Pies murder-for-hire trial. 

Tim Norman, who was featured on the show "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, is accused of plotting to kill his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr. in 2016.

Credit: Patrick Robert
Andre Montgomery

Two years before the murder, according to charging documents, Norman took out a life insurance policy on his 21-year-old nephew for $450,000, with Norman as the sole beneficiary. 

Day 2 of the trial

Attorneys continued to show several texts from Norman.

The first to take the stand was FBI Special Agent Chris Faber.

Defense attorney Michael Leonard asked if the agent disclosed all the texts to the jury.

Faber said no. 

Leonard said some texts showed Montgomery's appreciation for his uncle for bringing him back to St. Louis and sending him to Nelly’s music school to pursue a career.

There's also another text from Norman to his insurance agent, Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam, who already pleaded guilty.  

The evidence showed Norman texting Yaghnam, "He may not make it six months bro" in regards to Montgomery.

Leonard asked why he didn't show the texts prior to this message. 

"You didn’t talk about the texts and what it says on a post by Andre Montgomery in which he had two firearms. Can you rule out that Tim Norman was indicating that he may not make it because of this type of lifestyle?" he asked.

Leonard described to the jury that Montgomery voluntarily came back to St. Louis and it was Norman who took him under his wing by giving him spending money and an apartment. 

The question of insurance 

The defense asked Faber if there was any truth to Norman submitting five life insurance applications on Montgomery.

Faber said no, but said the money of premiums was coming out of Norman's bank account. 

Faber couldn't confirm if Montgomery met with Yaghnam in person to give him the insurance information. 

Cross-examining after the defense, prosecutor assistant U.S. Attorney Gwendolyn Carroll asked:

  • Who is the listed beneficiary on every one of those applications?
  • Who is the policy owner?
  • Who is paying for premiums?
  • Who's bank account is this connected to?

All of the answers were Tim Norman.

Carrol said even if Yaghnam submitted the forms, it was Norman benefiting.

Mutual of Omaha

Next on the stand was Caitlyn Hogue, a Life Underwriting Manager at Mutual of Omaha.

She disclosed for their company, an accident could include homicide and a beneficiary would make more money if an accident happened.

Hogue said they were notified that three other applications were applied earlier that year. 

She explained for Mutual of Omaha, an uncle is not an acceptable owner relationship and an uncle lacks that probable financial loss one would experience in another person’s death.

"We wanted to do a phone interview with Montgomery because of the amount coverage applied and it’s odd that an uncle would get cover on a nephew, $300,000 and $400,000 on his death," Hogue said.

The prosecution, defense and witness went back and forth about who submitted the applications and who would stand to benefit from Montgomery's untimely death.

Royal Neighbors of America

Next up was Patricia Adams with Royal Neighbors of America. 

Adam said on the stand that a $249,999 policy was requested for a base amount under Montgomery's name. 

This is one dollar short of a policy that would require a paramedical exam upon a subject's death. This exam includes blood and urine specimens, and it has to be done in person.

Adams said this is strange because policies are usually for even amounts. She said they closed the application because they asked for more responses, but never heard back.

Leonard cross-examined Adams and ask if there was any attempt to reach out to Norman. She said no. 

"Do you know if Wally submitted this without Norman's knowledge?" he asked her. She said no again. 

More witnesses

Another witness is Nancy Collins with Americo and she said the application applied for Montgomery had several red flags. 

Witness Doug Parrot with Forester’s Financial also talked about learning through its claims investigation, that Montgomery wasn't there for this agreement. 

He shares, that his company does not require a lab test or medical records.

Another witness was Jerrod Hunter-Spears, who was the owner of the home when this shooting took place. 

He says his cousin had a music studio in the basement and Montgomery was there. 

Spears later heard gunshots outside. 

Spears says he had a little baby girl and his grandma in the house, so to protect his family he went out with a gun. That's when he says, he saw someone else with a gun and shot him. 

"He told me he wasn’t an intruder and he was on my side, he said his friend went outside and got shot," Spear recalls.

That's when Spears called the police.

The last witness was an assistant medical examiner with the St. Louis City Office. 

The defense questioned the accuracy of their work and if a third party ever examined her cases.

When court wrapped up, the judge said Thursday's witness will take a lengthy amount of time.

Reporter Justina Coronel will be back in the courtroom at 8:30 AM.

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