VENICE, Fla. (NewsNation) — A court ruled that the controversial “burn after reading” letter can be considered evidence in the civil trial between the parents of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
During a pre-trial hearing Wednesday, a judge made rulings on two of four motions in a Venice, Florida courtroom made by attorneys for both families, NewsNation affiliate WFLA of Florida reported.
Last year, Gabby’s father, Joseph Petito, and mother, Nichole Schmidt, filed a civil lawsuit against Chris and Roberta Laundrie on Thursday, March 10, according to court documents obtained by WFLA.
Gabby’s parents claim the Laundrie’s knew about their daughter’s death before her remains were found and helped their son flee justice.
Pat Reilly, the attorney who represents Gabby’s parents, brought a letter reportedly written by Roberta to light in June of 2022 during an interview with WFLA.
“It’s a very important piece of building blocks of the circumstantial evidence that we have that demonstrate that the Laundries knew that Brian had killed Gabby. … It’s a big piece of evidence. The document is very damning, in my opinion,” Reilly said during an appearance Wednesday on NewsNation’s “Banfield.” “The document is very damning, in my opinion, to Roberta Laundrie. It’s a very odd letter that she wrote.”
According to a court filing from December, the letter revealed that Roberta had offered to lend a shovel to Brian to help him bury the body. However, the Laundries claim the letter was written months earlier.
Roberta spoke out for the first time about the letter in March of 2023 and said it had nothing to do with Gabby, but rather was a “quirky” letter she wrote to help repair their relationship.
The civil trial between the families had originally been scheduled for August 2023, however, it has been rescheduled for May 13, 2024 due to a growing list of pre-trial hearings.