• Man suspected in 1998 murder faces new violations
     | August 26,2013

    After more than 10 years in jail on an illegal firearm possession charge, the housemate of a Castleton man slain in 1998 has run afoul of his federal supervised release during the last two years.

    Robert O. Houman, 56, was sentenced in 2000 to 15 years in jail for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In the two years since he was freed and placed on supervised release in Florida on April 29, 2011, U.S. probation officers have twice petitioned the court for sanctions against him due to drug use that violated his court-ordered conditions.

    Houman was long the focus of a shooting in March 1998 that killed Michael Dubaniewicz in his medieval-style home.

    Although no one has ever been arrested in connection with the case, Vermont State Police said in the past that they considered Houman a suspect.

    Houman and his girlfriend, Linda LaPenna, were in Dubaniewicz’s home at the time of the shooting and police said it was Houman who reported the death.

    His fingerprints were found on a .22-caliber rifle recovered in the bushes near Dubaniewicz’s home on Frisbee Hill Road.

    Houman told police he had handled the gun and its magazine a few hours prior to Dubaniewiz’s death and left it on a couch. The body was found in the kitchen but police said there was blood in the living room and on the couch.

    Before Houman pleaded guilty to the federal firearms charge as part of a plea agreement, an insanity defense was mounted in his case.

    As part of the court’s recommendations at the time he was sentenced, Judge William Sessions wrote that Houman should be placed at a psychiatric treatment facility or receive psychiatric services at a non-hospital setting, according to the judgment filed in the case.

    Special conditions of supervision for Houman also required him to participate in a substance abuse program that included testing to determine whether he had reverted to the use of drugs or alcohol and he was ordered to refrain from using drugs or alcohol during his three years under supervised release.

    But in August 2012, he was ordered to perform 25 hours of community service after he tested positive for the use of amphetamines and marijuana.

    Another complaint was filed last week by the deputy chief U.S. probation officer in Vermont after it was determined that Houman had been “drinking excessively” for some time.

    The complaint noted that Houman had been readmitted into a substance abuse treatment program prior to the latest violation. Houman maintains employment at a hotel and spa in Homosassa, Fla., the court officer said.

    Following the latest offense, federal probation officials ordered Houman to reside at a halfway house for 60 days where he must contribute financially toward the cost of subsistence and transportation, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Burlington.

    @Tagline:brent.curtis @rutlandherald.com

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