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Jury convicts Helena woman of robbery over heroin trafficking

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Posted at 9:01 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 23:01:01-05

HELENA — A jury convicted a Helena woman accused of participating in an armed home invasion to rob a couple involved in trafficking heroin on Thursday.

Arielle Rose Cowser, 27, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce and robbery affecting commerce.

Cowser faces 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to five years of supervised release.

“Drug trafficking not only is illegal but also dangerous and leads to violence among those involved in the trade. We will prosecute drug-related robberies to the full extent of the law,” U.S. Attorney Alme said.

In the evidence presented at the trial, the prosecution said the FBI learned of a home invasion robbery in Helena in which the victims, a couple, were involved in trafficking heroin.

Co-defendant Kielan Brett Franklin, who has pleaded guilty, provided the couple money to travel to Washington to buy an ounce of heroin.

The couple returned to Montana with less than an ounce. When the couple did not immediately turn over the heroin, Franklin sent them threatening text messages.

Cowser went to the victims’ residence on March 8, 2019 and asked to enter, saying she had broken up with Franklin.

The female victim let Cowser inside and a few minutes later, Cowser let in Franklin and two other co-defendants, Gerald Allen Hiler and Morgan Victor Pitsch. Hiler and Pitsch, who have pleaded guilty, wore masks.

Hiler brandished a handgun and Pitsch possessed one during the robbery.

The defendants fled when they realized the female victim had called 911. The robbers took a small amount of heroin, the female victim’s wedding ring, her cell phone and a purse.