ST. LOUIS (AP) — The former star of St. Louis-based television reality show "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for arranging the shooting death of his nephew to collect a life insurance payment.
James “Tim” Norman did not speak on his own behalf at the sentencing hearing in the March 2016 killing of his 21-year-old nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr. Both men had starred in the long-running OWN reality show about the family’s soul food business in the St. Louis area.
Norman's attorneys submitted several letters from family and friends asking for leniency, including from Norman’s mother and founder of the Sweetie Pie’s restaurants, Robbie Montgomery.
“I don’t know whether Tim did what he was accused and convicted of,” wrote Robbie Montgomery, who is also the victim's grandmother. “He is still the baby that I bore, and I love him as every mother involved loves their child.”
Prosecutors said Norman took out a out a life insurance policy worth $450,000 on Montgomery and arranged to have him lured to a street in St. Louis, where another man shot him.
Several of Andre Montgomery's family members, including his mother, Michell Griggs, asked that Norman be sentenced to life, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. U.S. District Judge John A. Ross gave him two life sentences, calling it "a cold-blooded, incredibly premeditated, planned execution of your nephew."
Norman was convicted in September of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Travell Anthony Hill admitted that he shot Montgomery in exchange for $5,000. Hill, 31, of St. Louis, was sentenced in October to 32 years in prison. Terica Taneisha Ellis, now 39, from Memphis, Tennessee, was sentenced to three years in prison after admitting that Norman paid her $10,000 to find Montgomery and tell Hill his location.
A fourth person, insurance agent Waiel “Wally” Rebhi Yaghnam, was sentenced to three years in prison for helping Norman fraudulently apply for several insurance policies and file a claim on Montgomery's life insurance policy.