James “Tim” Norman, the former star of the St. Louis reality TV series Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s, was found guilty of arranging the assassination of his nephew.
A federal jury on Friday (September 16) returned its verdict in the murder of Norman, the St. Louis mail delivery reported. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder for hire, murder for hire and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Norman and his nephew Andre Montgomery both starred on the long-running reality show OWN, about a popular soul food company started in the St. Louis area by Robbie Montgomery – Norman’s mother and Andre’s grandmother.
Prosecutors are not asking for the death penalty, but Norman could be sentenced to life in prison. The verdict is set for December 15th.
Federal prosecutors said Norman, 43, hired two people to kill 21-year-old Montgomery on March 14, 2016, and then attempted to cash in a $450,000 (£393,900) life insurance policy issued months earlier for his Nephews had been completed.
Defense attorney Michael Leonard said after the verdict that he and Norman were “extremely surprised and disappointed by the outcome” of the case they plan to appeal.
Leonard said testimony at the trial of two co-conspirators proved “extremely implausible.” And he said Norman testified well during the trial and noted that he wasn’t cross-examined.
US Attorney Sayler Fleming said she was “very, very pleased” with the verdict, but said her office would not comment further until after the verdict was announced.
During closing arguments, Assistant US Attorney Angie Danis said Norman was the architect of the plan to kill Montgomery.
“This plan only exists for Tim Norman’s greed,” said Danis.
Leonard argued in his closing argument that the assassination attempt presented by the prosecution was a “contrived theory”.
Prosecutors said Norman paid $10,000 (£8,750) to an exotic dancer, Terica Ellis, to lure his nephew to the site where he was shot and $5,000 (£4,300) to travell Anthony Hill to get around shoot Montgomery.
Ellis and Hill both testified for the prosecution in the case. Both have pleaded guilty to participating in the program.
As a witness at the trial, Norman said he helped his nephew move to St. Louis about 18 months before his death and supported him financially because he was trying to babysit Montgomery. He said he aspires to be a “father figure” to his brother’s son.
Former Sweetie Pie employees and other character witnesses testified that Norman and his nephew were close.
Danis said all testimonies by the system’s co-conspirators at the trial were supported by texts, call recordings and location data.
She said Norman “created an image of being a mentor and a father figure to all these people, but it’s fiction.”
Leonard said during his closing argument that Ellis testified to get a shorter sentence and said Hill admitted he was a heavy drug user and that he “went on drugs that day.”
Norman testified on Tuesday September 13 that he took out life insurance for his nephew to provide business for a long-time customer of the family restaurant, Waiel Rebhi Yaghnam.
Yaghnam pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder for hire and wire fraud in the case in July this year.
Montgomery left St. Louis after at least $220,000 (£192,600) in cash, jewelry and other items were stolen in a June 2015 burglary at Robbie Montgomery’s home.
Norman told jurors he and his mother hired a private investigator to find and confront his nephew about the robbery, but that he had no intention of hurting him.
Additional coverage from the Associated Press
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/sweetie-pie-star-guilty-shooting-b2169139.html ‘Sweetie Pie’ star found guilty of orchestrating nephew’s murder