Lawyer for Brian Laundrie's parents says he has 'no reason' to think they will be charged in connection with Gabby Petito's killing

·4 min read
Gabby Petito and fiance Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito and fiance Brian LaundrieCourtesy of the Schmidt and Petito family
  • A lawyer for Brian Laundrie's parents said he has "no reason" to think they will be charged in the Gabby Petito case.

  • The lawyer made the comments to Insider a day after a medical examiner revealed that Laundrie died by suicide.

  • An attorney for Petito's family had said prosecutors are considering whether to charge "additional individuals."

A lawyer for Brian Laundrie's family said Wednesday that he has "no reason" to think the dead man's parents will be charged in connection with Gabby Petito's killing.

"I have no reason to believe any charges will be filed against Chris and Roberta Laundrie [Brian Laundrie's parents] with respect to this case," attorney Steven Bertolino told Insider.

Bertolino's comments come a day after a Florida medical examiner revealed that Brian Laundrie — who was the sole person of interest in the disappearance and murder of Petito, his fiancée — died by suicide.

Following the medical examiner's ruling, an attorney representing Petito's family claimed that prosecutors are considering whether to charge "additional individuals" in the high-profile, FBI-led case.

"The family was asked to not make any comments and let the FBI continue their investigation," attorney Richard Stafford said in a statement.

"The family was also asked to wait for the United States Attorney's Office to make a determination on whether any additional individuals will be charged," Stafford added. "When that determination is made, we will have a statement."

The FBI declined to comment to Insider on Wednesday regarding Stafford's statements. The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming — the jurisdiction where Petito was found dead — did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Petito's missing persons case became a subject of national fascination after Laundrie, 23, returned from a joint cross-country road trip to his Florida home without his fiancée, 22, on September 1. The pair had set out in a white Ford Transit converted camper van on July 2, leaving from Petito's hometown in Long Island, New York, to visit national and state parks.

When Brian Laundrie returned to the home where he lived with Petito and his parents, he quickly retained Bertolino as an attorney and refused to speak to authorities. Chris and Roberta Laundrie — who faced some criticism for their public silence in the case — then reported their son missing on September 17, telling investigators that he never returned home after going out for a hike days earlier in the vast Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County.

Petito's body was discovered at a remote campsite in Wyoming on September 19, and a coroner later determined her manner of death was homicide and the cause was manual strangulation.

Brian Laundrie was the subject of a weeks-long FBI-led manhunt until his skeletal remains were discovered on October 20. The remains were found near his backpack at the Carlton Reserve, in an area that authorities said had previously been underwater. Bertolino previously told Insider that Laundrie's parents had "advised" authorities to search that location.

Charging the Laundries would be a 'sour grapes prosecution,' legal expert says

Before Laundrie's remains were located, a US district court in Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for him in late September, alleging that he fraudulently used Petito's debit card after her death.

Laundrie was never charged in connection with Petito's killing, however. Prosecutors would need evidence that Laundrie's parents "knew or should have known" that their son killed Petito in order to charge them with accessory after the fact, according to Neama Rahmani, the president and cofounder of the personal-injury firm West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Rahmani also speculated about the possibility of Laundrie's parents being charged with making false statements to the FBI: "If they did lie to law enforcement, lead them on a wild goose chase to get their son a head start, that's a problem."

While Rahmani said he thought there is a "pretty good circumstantial case" to charge Laundrie's parents with accessory after the fact, Ralph Cilento, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, disagreed on the grounds that their son wasn't convicted of homicide in Petito's case.

According to Cilento, if prosecutors eventually bring charges against anyone else in connection with to Petito's death, it would be because police and prosecutors are looking to "save face."

"You missed the big guy," Cilento said. "So now anything after that is sort of like sour grapes prosecution."

As for potential charges of lying to the FBI, Cilento said that's a tool the agency uses when "the FBI loses and they're pissed off about losing."

"The FBI and the state, local government lost," Cilento said. "They let Brian Laundrie slip through their fucking fingers."

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