Reality Show Star Convicted of Murder-For-Hire Charges
ST. LOUIS – A jury on Friday convicted a former reality show star from Jackson, Mississippi of murder-for-hire and insurance fraud charges connected his successful plot to have his nephew killed in 2016.
After seven days of evidence, jurors found James Timothy Norman, 43, guilty of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Andre Montgomery Jr. on March 14, 2016, at 3964 Natural Bridge Avenue in St. Louis.
Norman took out a life insurance policy worth $450,000 on Montgomery, then arranged through intermediaries for his nephew's murder so that he could profit from it. Norman and Montgomery appeared on the reality show Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.
All three of Norman’s co-defendants pleaded guilty before trial. On June 3, 2022, Travell Anthony Hill, now 31, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and one count of murder-for-hire. Hill admitted that prior to Montgomery’s death, he met with a mutual acquaintance of his and Norman’s, who told Hill that Norman wanted Montgomery killed. On the day of Montgomery’s death, Hill and Norman met in St. Louis and Norman told Hill that a woman would be calling with Montgomery’s location. After receiving a call from the woman, Terica Ellis, Hill fatally shot Montgomery with a .380-caliber handgun at 8:02 p.m. and then disposed of the gun and his phone. He was later paid $5,000.
On July 22, Ellis, 38, pleaded guilty to the murder-for-hire conspiracy charge and Waiel “Wally” Rebhi Yaghnam, 44, pleaded guilty to a charge of wire and mail fraud conspiracy.
Ellis, an exotic dancer from Memphis, Tennessee, admitted finding Montgomery twice for Norman before the murder and providing Montgomery’s whereabouts first to Norman, then to Hill, using prepaid “burner” phones Ellis and Norman purchased together. Ellis admitted knowing that Norman was upset and frustrated by his inability to locate Montgomery and knowing that Norman was going to take some form of action, but she did not know Montgomery would be shot. Norman paid her $10,000 for finding his nephew and told her to dispose of her burner phone after the murder.
Yaghnam, an insurance agent, admitted conspiring with Norman to fraudulently obtain a life insurance policy on Montgomery. Beginning in October of 2014, Norman and Yaghnam submitted five separate life insurance applications, all containing numerous false statements regarding Montgomery’s income, net worth, medical history, employment and family background. The $200,000 policy that was ultimately issued had a $200,000 accidental death rider that would pay out if Montgomery died of something other than natural causes and a $50,000 rider that would pay out if Montgomery died within 10 years of the policy’s issuance.
Following Montgomery’s murder, Yaghnam helped Norman file a claim on Montgomery’s life insurance policy.
Elis was charged by complaint on July 8, 2020. Norman was charged Aug. 11, 2020. Norman, Ellis and Yaghnam were indicted Aug. 20, 2020. Hill was charged Nov. 3, 2020.
Norman is scheduled to be sentenced December 15.
U.S. Attorney Sayler Fleming said, “I’d like to thank the prosecution team that worked with a tremendous amount of evidence to earn this guilty verdict, as well as the cooperation and diligence of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI.”
The FBI and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Angie Danis and Gwendolyn Carroll are prosecuting the case.