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Sweetie Pie's murder-for-hire trial starts Tuesday

James Timothy "Tim" Norman is accused of being the mastermind in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr., in 2016.

ST. LOUIS — A high-profile murder trial gets underway today in downtown St. Louis. 

James Timothy "Tim" Norman is accused of being the mastermind in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his nephew, 21-year-old Andre Montgomery Jr., in 2016.

Both men were in the reality TV show, "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's," which played for several seasons on the Oprah Winfrey Network. 

Norman is charged with conspiracy to commission a murder-for-hire that resulted in death. 

Four people were charged in connection with Andre Montgomery Jr.'s killing in March 2016. 

Everyone, but Norman, has already plead guilty, with Norman being the only defendant choosing to go to trial. 

Jury selection begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 8:30 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Downtown St. Louis.

The Background

According to charging documents, Norman took out a life insurance policy on his 21-year-old nephew, Montgomery, for $450,000 in 2014, with Norman as the sole beneficiary. 

It was only two years later, on March 14, 2016, when Montgomery was shot and killed. 

It was well-documented in the reality TV show, "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's," that Montgomery relocated to St. Louis for fresh start. 

According to police, it was during that time that Norman was seeing a dancer from Memphis, Terica Ellis. 

One day before the deadly shooting, charging documents show, that Ellis and Norman came to St. Louis from out of town. 

Investigators said Norman and Ellis bought burner phones to stay in touch on the day of the murder. 

On that same day, Ellis and Norman met with Travel Hill, near the Clinton-Peabody Housing Complex south of downtown St. Louis for a "discussion."

According to court documents, Hill then obtained a .380 caliber semiautomatic handgun from someone who lived near his apartment. 

Ellis allegedly gave Montgomery's location to the accused gunman, Hill, on the night of Montgomery's murder. She told Hill she would lure Montgomery outside of the house. 

That night, at about 8 p.m., Montgomery left the house he was in to take a phone call. 

Montgomery was then shot and killed outside the home, along Natural Bridge in the Greater Ville neighborhood. 

Evidence puts Ellis at the scene of the murder on Natural Bridge Road that night. 

Just a few days later, evidence also shows, that Ellis deposited nearly $10,000 in cash into multiple bank accounts. According to charging documents, prior to the murder, she had a negative balance. 

Norman tried and failed several times to collect his nephew's life insurance policy, weeks after the homicide. 

Ellis headed back to Memphis just minutes after the shooting and Norman flew back to California just one day later on March 15, 2016. 

What's Happened Since

In June of 2022, Hill plead guilty to shooting and killing Montgomery, for several thousands of dollars. 

Hill was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and another count of murder-for-hire. 

According to the plea agreement, both of these counts carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Hill is schedule to be sentenced at 2 p.m. on September 20. 

The fourth person charged in Montgomery's death is Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam, he was Norman's insurance agent. 

Yaghnam is charged with mail and wire fraud, and several counts of aggravated identity theft. 

According to prosecutors, Yaghnam helped Norman submit five different applications for life insurance policies on Montgomery, all of which contained falsified information. 

Both Ellis and Yaghnam pleaded guilty on July 22. Ellis is schedule to be sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on November 2. Yaghnam is scheduled to be sentenced on October 26 at 2 p.m.

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