A JUDGE is currently hearing from the parents of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie in court for the first time since the two of them died last fall.
Nichole was seen in court in tears and rubbing a locket around her neck during the hearing.
The first hearing is today, and it will determine whether or not the case will proceed to a jury trial next year.
The pre-trial hearing is taking place at Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice, Florida.
On October 20, Brian’s skeletal remains were found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. It was later revealed that he died due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, with his cause of death announced on November 23.
Read our Petito lawsuit live blog for the latest news and updates…
Nichole wiping away tears
As their lawyer makes his arguments in court, Gabby’s mother Nichole continues to wipe away her tears.
‘It’s about a course of conduct they committed’
Petito lawyer: “This case is not simply about the silence of Christopher and Roberta Laundrie who knew their son had murdered Gabby Petito… It’s about a course of conduct they committed from the moment they learned on August 28 of 2021 that their son had brutally murdered Gabby Petito up until her body was found.”
Completion of Luka’s arguement
Concluding his arguments, Matthew Luka said to the judge: “I don’t believe that the Laundries had an obligation to provde some information, they can withhold all information until it is compelled of them or offered immunity by the government.”
‘There doesn’t have to be a formal investigation’
Luka said to Judge Hunter W Carroll: “What I’m saying though is that there doesn’t have to be a formal investigation.
“If I left this courtroom and committed a crime and nobody knew about it, I’m not obligated to go confess that crime.
“I can assert my silence for as long as I need to protect myself.”
Heartbroken and in tears
Gabby Petito’s mom Nichole Schmidt was reportedly seen in tears while holding a heart-shaped locket around her neck.
Laundries ‘not required’ to share information
The Laundries’ lawyer Matthew Luka said in court today: “My argument is not that there was a privilege between Brian Laundrie and his parents, my argument is that even if Brian Laundrie conveyed information to his parents they do not have a requirement to speak, they do not have to share.”
‘Foundational right’ to remain silent
“People who are faced with difficult challenges have to make difficult choices and in our society it recognizes at its core that remaining silent or speaking through an attorney are foundational rights,” said Matthew Luka, the Laundries’ lawyer.
Petitos arriving in court
Prior to a hearing in their civil action against Brian Laundrie’s family, members of Gabby Petito’s family have appeared at the Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice.
Both Jim and Nichole Schmidt and Joe and Tara Petito will attend the hearing in court.
Hearing to begin soon
A pre-trial hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled to take place at Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon.
It’s scheduled to begin at 1.30pm.
Was Gabby Petito pregnant?
Gabby’s autopsy confirmed that she was not pregnant at the time of her death.
Online sleuths had speculated that Gabby may be pregnant after discovering a Pinterest board titled: “Oh Baby”.
The board was also shared by Brian Laundrie’s mom, the International Business Times reports.
The page contains several links to items of clothing that were previously for sale including onesies and crocheted bibs.
There are several snaps of toddlers playing on the beach and cute family photos.
Parents entering the courtroom
Nicole Schmidt and Joe Petito were seen entering the courtroom for the pretrial.
When is the hearing?
The first hearing is set for today, and it will determine whether or not the case will proceed to a jury trial in 2023.
The pre-trial hearing will take place at Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice, Florida, and is scheduled for this afternoon.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm, according to WFLA.
It is set to last approximately one hour.
‘Her final resting place’
Gabby Petito’s family traveled to Wyoming where her remains were found near Grand Teton National Park on September 19.
“It almost felt like her home. Her final resting place,” Gabby’s mom, Nichole Schmidt, told Dr Oz on an episode of the show featuring Gabby’s parents and step-parents.
“Such a beautiful, peaceful place to be. And we went there to bring her home and that’s what we did.”
Where were Brian Laundrie’s remains found?
Brian Laundrie’s remains were officially identified on October 21, 2021, after a long search at Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
The FBI released a statement after it was confirmed on October 21 that the human remains found in the search for Brian were bones.
The statement read: “On October 21, 2021, a comparison of dental records confirmed that the human remains found at the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park are those of Brian Laundrie.”
Gabby Petito’s dad at her funeral, continued
“And she’s inspired a lot of women and a lot of men to do what’s best for them first. Put yourself first and do it now while you have the time. I couldn’t be more proud as a father,” he added.
Joe also warned women in toxic relationships to “leave now” so that way this tragedy does not happen to them.
Just days after, the family then held a press conference, where Nicole showed off matching tattoos that were designed by Gabby prior to her death.
On October 3, 2021, Gabby’s family announced that they had launched the Gabby Petito Foundation in honor of their late daughter.
Gabby Petito’s dad at her funeral
At the service, her father Joe said that he wanted people to be “inspired” by the life she embodied.
“So when you leave here today, be inspired by what she brought to the table because the entire planet knows this woman’s name now,” he said.
Who is going to testify?
If the case proceeds to a trial, Gabby Petito’s parents and Brian Laundrie’s parents are all on the shortlist to testify, according to an initial witness list released last month.
Representatives from the North Port Police Department and the FBI are also on the so-called “wish list” of people who may be called upon to testify in the case.
The list is as follows, according to WFLA:
- Joseph Petito (Gabby Petito’s father)
- Nichole Schmidt (Gabby Petito’s mother)
- Tara Petito (Gabby Petito’s stepmother)
- James Schmidt (Gabby Petito’s stepfather)
- Christopher Laundrie (Brian Laundrie’s father)
- Roberta Laundrie (Brian Laundrie’s mother)
- Representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Names not specified)
- Representatives of the North Port Police Department (Names not specified)
Bertolino says claims are ‘baseless under the law’
The Laundrie’s attorney, Steve Bertolino, says Chris and Roberta had been cooperative throughout the investigation.
He also claims that their right to remain silent is protected by the US Constitution, saying, “the Laundries have not publicly commented at my direction, which is their right under the law.”
“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-party, including the Petito family,” Bertolino said in March 2022.
“This fundamental legal principle renders the Petitos’ claims to be baseless under the law.”
Laundrie parents’ alleged ‘lack of cooperation’
Chris and Roberta Laundrie remained silent throughout the investigation into Gabby Petito’s disappearance.
They were never charged by authorities as the FBI continued to investigate Petito’s death.
North Port Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told WFLA last October that there was a “lack of cooperation from the [Laundrie] family early on.”
Lawsuit evidence from Gabby’s parents
“It is believed, and therefore averred that… Brian Laundrie advised his parents, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie, that he had murdered Gabrielle Petito,” the lawsuit states, according to WFLA.
“On that same date, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie spoke with Attorney Steve Bertolino, and sent him a retainer on Sept. 2, 2021.”
The lawsuit does not include the alleged evidence Petito’s parents claim to have.
When did the Gabby Petito documentary air?
A documentary about the disappearance and death of Gabby, The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media, was released on December 17, 2021.
It was released on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock.
Gabby’s body found in September
The Petito’s lawyer later confirmed on September 21 that the body was identified as Gabby’s.
The remains were discovered in Grant Teton National Park, where she had been camping with her fiancé Brian Laundrie when she disappeared.
“I want to personally thank the press and news media for giving the Petito and Schmidt family time to grieve,” lawyer Richard Stafford said in a statement at the time.
‘I hope she did not suffer’
“That she was in a place she wanted to be, looking at the beautiful mountains.”
She added: “You never, ever think it is going to be yours. It is surreal.”
How did Brian Laundrie die?
“Chris and Roberta Laundrie have been informed that the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and the manner of death was suicide,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told The Sun.
“Chris and Roberta are still mourning the loss of their son and are hopeful that these findings bring closure to both families.”
Gabby Petito’s cause of death
On October 12, 2021, the official autopsy report was released by Teton County revealing that Gabby’s cause of death was strangulation.
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