Man pleads innocent to killing father, son electricians
A 70-year-old Hubbardton man charged with killing father and son electricians Wednesday had been in an ongoing dispute with his landlord about allowing workers onto the property to do maintenance work, according to court records released this afternoon.
Sylvester Labartino, 70, pleaded innocent today in criminal court in Rutland to two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Shane Plummer, 57, and his son, Christopher Plummer, 26, both of West Haven. Sylvester was ordered held on $750,000 bail and was taken to Rutland jail following the brief hearing.
The two men were killed Wednesday afternoon when they were at 578 Route 30 north in Hubbardton doing work at a home Labartino had been renting from William Gilbert, according to an affidavit by Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Daniel Elliott.
A day earlier, the affidavit stated, Trooper Stephanie Shaw had gone to the residence after receiving a complaint from Gilbert that he had been "having difficulty" with Labartino, who was preventing electricians from doing needed maintenance at the residence.
"Gilbert advised the tenant was hostile and was a gun owner," the affidavit stated.
Shaw then talked to Labartino, who reportedly told her that the dispute with Gilbert had been going on for some time and he was tired of being bothered by his landlord.
Shaw again was called to the home Wednesday morning for a trespassing complaint made by Labartino, who told her that he again was having "issues" with Gilbert and electricians who had been at the property that morning, the affidavit stated.
Labartino told Shaw, according to the affidavit, that he didn't want to see Gilbert or the workers when he returned from a doctor's appointment.
On Wednesday, at 1:37 p.m., the affidavit stated, police received a 911 call later determined to be from a number belonging to Shane Plummer's cellphone. "I need help, my son has just been shot and he chased me out of my truck with a rifle," the caller said.
The first two troopers who arrived at Labartino's address at 1:56 p.m. reported finding two men on the ground and injured. Fair Haven Rescue personnel arrived at the scene at 2:06 p.m. and both men were pronounced dead, Elliott wrote in the affidavit.
At 2 p.m. police pulled over Labartino, who was driving a white Ford Bronco about a mile south of the scene, Elliott wrote. Labartino was taken to the Fair Haven Police Department and told authorities he wanted to speak with an attorney and then did not provide any statement, according to the affidavit.
Labartino appeared this afternoon in Rutland criminal court dressed in a green smock and sandals. He sat at the defense table and stared straight ahead, not looking at the rows of mourning family members who wept behind him.
Each second-degree murder charge against Labartino carries a possible maximum penalty of up to life in prison, if convicted.
Outside the courtroom prior to the arraignment, Michelle Charron, Shane Plummer's sister and Christopher Plummer's aunt, said she came to the hearing seeking answers.
"I want to know why," she said with tears in her eyes.