Court documents reveal more about murder-for-hire investigation involving Sweetie Pie’s owner

Future court filings will be sealed, based on judge's order
Updated: Aug. 19, 2020 at 9:08 PM CDT

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - While James Timothy Norman awaits extradition to St. Louis in connection with a federal murder-for-hire charge there, court filings reveal new information about the U.S. case against him.

The 41-year-old owner of Sweetie Pie’s restaurant in Jackson has been implicated as part of a criminal conspiracy to kill his own nephew, Andre Montgomery, in March 2016.

3 On Your Side reached out to the family through an employee at the Jackson restaurant, but they declined to comment on the investigation.

Norman’s mother, Robbie Montgomery, is Andre’s grandmother.

Court documents reveal more about murder-for-hire investigation involving Sweetie Pie’s owner(Madison County Detention Center)

A pretrial motion filed last week described the crime as one that involved “substantial calculation and planning.”

U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Jensen representing the Eastern District of Missouri wrote that Norman and Terica Ellis, an exotic dancer from Memphis, obtained “burner” cell phones to try and thwart law enforcement detection.

“Substantial steps were taken to determine where the victim would be and to lure him outside of the residence,” the motion stated. “The defendant traveled to California to St. Louis for less than 24 hours for the purpose of orchestrating the murder of his own nephew for his own financial gain.”

A criminal affidavit from FBI Special Agent Christopher Faber described some details of the case, including that Norman had tried fraudulently to obtain multiple life insurance policies on Andre Montgomery, succeeding through Foresters Insurance for a policy worth $450,000.

Faber said Norman did this two years before Andre Montgomery was killed.

The affidavit broke down some of the communication between Ellis and Norman, describing how the “burner” phones were used repeatedly in St. Louis the day Andre Montgomery was gunned down.

Court documents reveal more about murder-for-hire investigation involving Sweetie Pie’s owner(Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

Faber pointed to evidence that Andre Montgomery knew Ellis; an email from Ellis’ account told him that she would be in St. Louis, and Faber said they had evidence Andre Montgomery texted her his address an hour before he was shot and killed at that same location.

Seconds after the shooting, Ellis called Norman, with location data indicating she was heading back to Memphis from St. Louis.

A few days after the killing, Ellis transferred more than $9,000 into her account -- which previously had a negative balance.

Federal investigators believe that money was payment from Norman.

Norman also tried to collect on the insurance policy but was denied because he couldn’t provide documents they requested.

In the pretrial motion, Jensen wrote Norman’s brief criminal history included a stint in the Missouri Department of Corrections, where he was sentenced for 12 years after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.

Jensen also said Norman would be considered a substantial flight risk, given his alleged role in the conspiracy and the severity of the charges, and said federal authorities know Norman has a passport and had traveled to Mexico at least four times in the last four years.

In addition, Norman has maintained homes and connections in California, Texas and Mississippi -- through his involvement in Sweetie Pie’s restaurants and a reality show -- and Jensen said they believe he has the resources and means through access to significant assets to flee.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David D. Noce granted a motion to seal the case shortly after the affidavit was filed, but made an exception for the suppressed complaint Tuesday, which was subsequently made public.

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