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VENICE, Fla. – FIRST ON Acesparks: The family of Gabby Petito, the young woman who is suspected of having been murdered last year by her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, will be in Florida court on Wednesday, when a judge will hear arguments from both sides over whether their lawsuit should go to a jury trial.
The Petito-Schmidt families and their attorney will appear before Judge Hunter W. Carroll in a Sarasota County Circuit Court for the 1:30 pm hearing, which the Laundrie family attorney, Steven Bertolino, will attend virtually, Acesparks Digital has learned. Laundrie’s rents, Chris and Roberta, will not be present in the courtroom and will also not appear virtually, Bertolino told Acesparks Digital.
Petito’s family has alleged that Laundrie’s rents were aware that their son killed their daughter and attempted to help him flee justice. trick Reilly, the attorney who is representing the Petito-Schmidt families in civil matter, told Acesparks Digital on Wednesday: “I have no comment at this point and don’t know if the judge will rule today.”
GABBY PETITO UPDATE: RENTS FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST LAUNDRIE FAMILY
Laundrie and 22-year-old Petito left for a trip in mid-June 2021 with the plan to visit national rks in a white converted Ford Transit. The couple had met years earlier on Long Island, New York, where they grew up and later moved into Brian’s rents’ North Port, Florida, home.
During their travels through Utah, Moab Police received a report of a domestic violence incident involving the couple. A witness told 911 he saw a man, later found to be Brian Laundrie, hitting and “slapping” the woman, Petito, on August 12.
The call appears to contradict a police report in which an officer states “no one reported that the male struck the female.”
One of the officers on the scene wrote that the incident could be “more accurately categorized as a mental / emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”
BRIAN LAUNDRIE AUTOPSY UPDATE: CAUSE OF DEATH WAS SUICIDE, SAYS FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGIST
An outside investigation found “unintentional mistakes,” and recommended the officers involved in the case be placed on probation, according to a report released Jan. 12.
Laundrie arrived back in North Port on Sept. 1 – with the van, but without Petito.
rents Chris and Roberta Laundrie said Brian, 23, left his family’s North Port, home on Sept. 13 to hike in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental rk, located alongside the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve. The Laundries’ attorney had initially identified the date of Brian’s disappearance as being Sept. 14 before changing the timeline weeks later.
After his disappearance, state, local, county and federal law enforcement extensively searched the reserve and the Myakkahatchee, where Laundrie was said to have rked his car at the time.
GABBY PETTITO: FBI CLOSES HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION AS IT REVEALS BRIAN LAUNDRIE’S NOTEBOOK CONFESSION
His family did not announce until Sept. 17 – Four days after he allegedly left – that he had not returned.
Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, reported her missing to Suffolk County Police in New York on Sept. 11. Search teams discovered Petito’s body near Wyoming’s Grant Teton National rk on Sept. 19 and announced shortly thereafter that she had been the victim of a homicide.
Brian Laundrie’s remains were found on Oct. 20, 2021, in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental rk, located in the 23-year-old’s hometown of North Port. His rents found Brian’s bag and other items while hiking with law enforcement in the area, where they had told authorities their son was known to frequent. Acesparks Digital captured photos and exclusive video of the rents searching the swamp, where law enforcement officers ultimately made the grim discovery.
Laundrie was considered a fugitive and was a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s disappearance and death. The FBI had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges related to his unauthorized use of a bank card.
BRIAN LAUNDRIE NOTEBOOK: GABBY PETITO’S KILLER CONFESSED IN WRITING BEFORE SUICIDE, FBI SAYS
Petito’s rents filed a civil lawsuit earlier this year accusing Chris and Roberta Laundrie of knowing that their son killed Gabby and attempting to help him flee.
“Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct which constitutes behavior, under the circumstances, which goes beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” the lawsuit alleges. “As a direct and proximate result of the willfulness and maliciousness of Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt had been caused to suffer in and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of cacity for enjoyment of life experienced in the st and to be experienced in the future. “
READ THE LAWSUIT HERE:
The complaint further describes how Brian Laundrie is “believed” to have “murdered Gabrielle Petito” on Aug. 27, 2021.
Laundrie then sent phony text messages between his cell and Petito’s “in an attempt to hide the fact” that she was dead, according to court documents and the FBI.
The complaint alleges that Laundrie confessed to his rents on Aug. 28 and that the Laundries hired lawyer Steve Bertolino, a longtime friend, on Sept. 2.
Bertolino told Acesparks Digital Friday he has represented the Laundrie family “for many years” and called the civil lawsuit “baseless.”
“As I have maintained over the last several months, the Laundrie’s have not publicly commented at my direction which is their right under the law,” he said. “Assuming everything the Petitos allege in their lawsuit is true, which we deny, this lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to Law Enforcement or any third-rty including the Petito family. This fundamental legal principle renders the Petito’s claims to be baseless under the law. “
Acesparks reporter Laura Ingle contributed to this report.