Feds won’t seek death penalty against “Sweetie Pies” murder for hire suspect

ST. LOUIS– Prosecutors confirmed Friday that they will not seek the death penalty in cases against any of the three people charged in a murder-for-hire conspiracy plot to kill Andre Montgomery Jr., grandson of the owner of the Sweetie Pies restaurants.

Travell Anthony Hill was the last person charged in the conspiracy. Friday’s court filing regarding his case does not give a reason for the decision.

In November, prosecutors made a similar determination about the other defendants specifically charged with murder-for-hire in the case, Montgomery’s uncle, James Timothy “Tim” Norman, and his co-defendant, Terica Taneisha Ellis.

By law, a death penalty review process must occur when a federal criminal charge is punishable by death but does not reflect the prosecutor’s desire to impose it.

Federal prosecutors allege that Norman, who operated his own Sweetie Pie’s in Jackson, Mississippi, took out a $450,000 life insurance policy in 2014 on his nephew, Andre Montgomery Jr., with Norman named as the sole beneficiary.

Then in March 2016, Norman contacted and communicated with Ellis, an exotic dancer living in Memphis, Tennessee, who told Norman via cellphone she would be in St. Louis.

On the day prior to Montgomery’s death, Norman flew to St. Louis from the Los Angeles area. Once in St. Louis, prosecutors say both Norman and Ellis communicated with each other via burner phones. Ellis also used the phone to learn Montgomery’s location and then called Norman and Hill.

Montgomery was shot and killed in the 3900 block of Natural Bridge Road just after 8 p.m. on March 14, 2016.

In late August, Norman and Ellis were arrested and charged with murder-for-hire conspiracy. That same week, Norman and Yaghnam were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud.