Federal jury in Helena convicts two in home invasion case
A federal jury in U.S. District Court in Helena on Thursday convicted two defendants of robbery and firearms charges in a drug-related home invasion. The four-day trial that began on Monday.
The jury found Gabriel Elijah Kane Arkinson, 32, Billings, and Jamie Nicole Milsten, 35, Helena, each guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce, robbery affecting commerce and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Each defendant faces a maximum 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release for the conspiracy and robbery convictions, plus a mandatory minimum seven years to life in prison consecutive to any other charge on the firearm charge.
A third defendant, Melissa Dawn Shurtliff, 28, Helena, pleaded guilty earlier to robbery affecting commerce and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Prosecutors at trial presented evidence that Arkinson and Milsten entered the residence of a Helena drug dealer on April 23, 2017 to steal drugs and drug proceeds. Arkinson was armed with a sawed-off shotgun, and Milsten searched the residence for drugs and money. A small amount of methamphetamine, U.S. currency and a cell phone were stolen. Shurtliff planned the robbery and acted as the getaway driver.
Senior U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell presided at the trial. Sentencing for the three defendants is scheduled for April 9, 2019. The defendants are in custody.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Bartleson and investigated by the FBI and the Montana Regional Violent Crime Task Force.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and to make communities safer. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department of Justice’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.