Petito, Laundrie lawsuit faces test in court Wednesday

(NewsNation) — The lawsuit from the family of Gabby Petito against her boyfriend’s family has a trial date set for next summer, but if it doesn’t survive a Wednesday challenge, a jury may never hear it.

Petito was killed in August 2021 while she was on a cross-country van trip with Brian Laundrie. Petito’s missing person case became a national story, which only became more complicated when Laundrie disappeared just as police named him a person of interest.

A month later, Laundrie’s remains were found alongside a notebook in which he took responsibility for Petito’s death.

During the nearly two months between the last time Petito was heard from and the discovery of that notebook, Brian Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, did not make any statements to the media. The Petitos’ lawsuit accused the Laundries of withholding information from investigators, and lying through their attorney.

That attorney, Steven Bertolino, has said his clients have the right to remain silent and is asking the judge to toss the lawsuit on those grounds.

Sarasota, Florida Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll will hear the case Wednesday. Carroll has already asked the Petitos to amend the lawsuit once.

If the case is allowed to proceed, the jury trial would be held in August 2023.

A jury trial would also allow more details to come to light, as investigators may be called on to testify. The Laundries could also head to the witness stand, though they would likely invoke the Fifth Amendment.

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