ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A woman convicted in the Sweetie Pie’s murder-for-hire conspiracy testified today. Terica Ellis told the jury about what happened before the death of Andre Montgomery Jr.

Andre Montgomery Jr.
Andre Montgomery Jr. (Courtesy U.S. Attorney’s Office)

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri said James Timothy “Tim” Norman, a co-owner of Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants in the St. Louis area, took out a $450,000 life insurance policy in 2015 on his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr., with Norman named as the sole beneficiary.

Norman is the son of Robbie Montgomery, who founded Sweetie Pie’s in 1996. The restaurant and Montgomery family were the subjects of a reality show produced by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network called, “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.”

Terica Ellis, an exotic dancer living in Memphis, Tennessee, was accused of setting Andre up and tipping off Norman and others about Andre’s location prior to the murder. She pleaded guilty in July 2022 to one count of murder-for-hire conspiracy.

In federal court Thursday, Ellis says she met with Norman at a hotel in the early morning hours of March 14, 2016. The exotic dancer was working at an East St. Louis strip club overnight. Ellis said she lived in the Memphis area, but made frequent trips to St. Louis for weekend work. She said she knew Norton since 2011 and he was a “friend with benefits.”

That night Ellis recalled Normansaying that his nephew had stolen money and jewelry from his mother’s house and he wanted to get her belongings back. Norman then reportedly showed her a photo of his nephew, later identified as Montgomery. Ellis said she knew him and had exchanged phone numbers.

Per Elllis’ testimony, Norman then offered her $10,000 to help him find Montgomery. He gave her the money in a bag and the two left the hotel. According to Ellis’ testimony, she started communicating with Montgomery before she left the hotel.

They agreed to meet at a location in the 3900 block of Natural Bridge Road that evening. She had been in communication with Norton about the meet-up.

Moments after Ellis left, she heard gunshots and contacted Norton. She says he told her to drive to Memphis, delete her Instagram account, and get rid of her burner phone.

Later that month Ellis was in contact with Norton. He told her to stay out of St. Louis since she was wanted for questioning in Montgomery’s death.

Travell Hill, the accused trigger man, was indicted in November 2020 on one count of murder-for-hire and one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. He pleaded guilty in June 2022. He’ll be sentenced on Sept. 20.

Waiel Yaghnam, Norman’s insurance agent, was indicted in August 2020 on one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. He pleaded guilty in July 2022. Both Ellis and Yaghnam will be sentenced on Oct. 26.

Robbie Montgomery’s home was burglarized in June 2015. More than $200,000 in cash and other valuables were stolen from the residence. Norman pointed the finger at Andre, who left the area shortly after the crime. Faber said the FBI does not know who committed the burglary. However, he said county authorities had cleared Andre.

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