Former "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" star James "Tim" Norman was sentenced to life in prison Thursday in St. Louis after being convicted of arranging the 2016 murder of his nephew Andre Montgomery, Jr, 21, in order to collect a life insurance payment.
In September, Norman was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit fraud. The 43-year-old starred alongside Montgomery in the long-running OWN reality show about their family’s soul food business in St. Louis.
Though Norman did not speak on his own behalf at the sentencing hearing, his lawyers submitted letters requesting leniency from family and friends including his mother and Montgomery's grandmother, Robbie Montgomery, per The Associated Press.
"I don’t know whether Tim did what he was accused and convicted of," wrote Robbie, who founded the Sweetie Pie's restaurant chain.
She continued, "He is still the baby that I bore, and I love him as every mother involved loves their child."
WELCOME TO SWEETIE PIE'S STAR CHARGED IN ALLEGED MURDER PLOT TO KILL NEPHEW
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Norman was responsible for arranging a murder-for-hire plot when he hired two people to kill Montgomery on March 14, 2016. They said he then tried to cash a $450,000 life insurance policy that he had taken out against Montgomery's life, on which he was the sole beneficiary.
Several of Montgomery’s family members, including his mother, Michell Griggs, asked that Norman be sentenced to life, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. U.S. District Judge John A. Ross gave him two life sentences, calling it "a cold-blooded, incredibly premeditated, planned execution of your nephew."
In June, Travell Anthony Hill pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Montgomery in a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by Norman. Hill killed Montgomery in exchange for $5,000, which Norman instructed a friend to give him after the murder.
Hill and another conspirator, Terica Ellis, testified against Norman during his trial. Hill was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire. The 31-year-old was sentenced to 32 years in prison last October.
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In July, Ellis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. The former exotic dancer admitted that she lured Montgomery out on the street the night of the killing and told Hill his location. Ellis, now 39, from Memphis, Tennessee, was sentenced to three years in prison.
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.
"Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" ran on OWN for nine seasons from 2011 to 2018. Robbie announced that she had closed the chain's final St. Louis location after her son was convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.