VENICE, FL -- A Sarasota County judge will decide whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the parents of a woman murdered during a cross-country camping trip, against the parents of the man suspected of killing her.
Judge Hunter Carroll held the first hearing in the lawsuit filed by Gabby Petito's parents Wednesday afternoon in a Venice courtroom, conducted remotely because of COVID protocols. Patrick Reilly, the attorney for Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt, claimed that Chris and Roberta Laundrie knew that Petito was dead as early as August 28th, the day after the FBI says she was murdered at a campground in Wyoming. The FBI says the only person of interest in that murder is Brian Laundrie, who took his own life in a North Port nature preserve last fall.
The Petito parents' suit claims that the Laundries didn't share that information with Petito and Schmidt, who were distressed after not hearing from their daughter. They also issued a statement through their attorney during the search that implied Petito might still have ben alive. Reilly called that "outrageous."
The Laundries' lawyer, Matthew Luka, insists that even if the Laundries knew that Petito was dead, his clients would have no obligation to disclose all they knew.
Judge Carroll says he expects to issue a ruling within two weeks.
See the hearing in the link below from News Channel 8: