Gabi Pettito’s parents and attorney Brian Laundry appear in a Florida court to hear the fate of the civil lawsuit

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VENICE, Florida – The family of Gabe Pettito, the young woman suspected of being murdered last year by boyfriend Brian Laundry, appeared before a Florida judge Wednesday morning about whether the lawsuit against the Laundry family should be taken to a trial jury.

The Pettito family claimed that Laundry’s parents, Chris and Roberta, knew their son had murdered their daughter and tried to help him escape justice.

Nicole Schmidt and Jim Schmidt, Pettito’s mother and stepfather, and Joseph and Tara Pettito, her father and stepmother, appeared before Judge Hunter W. Carroll in Sarasota County Courthouse at 1:30 p.m. One of the couple’s lawyers, Stephen Bertolino, appeared by default, while assistant lawyer Matthew Luca appeared in person. Chris and Roberta Laundry did not attend.

The purpose of Wednesday’s hearing was for the two sides to discuss whether the case should be referred for trial by jury. Ahead of the hearing, Bertolino and Patrick Riley, the civil prosecutor representing the Petitto Schmidt families, said they were unsure whether the judge would announce a decision during Wednesday’s hearing.

Gabi Pettito murdered Brian Laundry’s parents to skip Florida hearing on fate of civil lawsuit

Gabe Pettito, left, and Brian Laundry are seen in Body Cam footage released by the Moab City Police Department in Utah.

Gabe Pettito, left, and Brian Laundry are seen in Body Cam footage released by the Moab City Police Department in Utah.
(Moab City Police Department)

Petio’s parents filed a civil lawsuit earlier this year accusing Chris and Roberta Laundry of knowing their son killed Gabe and of trying to help him escape.

The lawsuit alleges that “Christopher Laundry and Roberta Launderi exhibited extreme and outrageous behavior which, under the circumstances, would exceed all possible limits of decency and be seen as shocking, brutal and wholly intolerable in a civilized society.” “As a direct and direct result of Christopher Laundry and Roberta Laundery’s insistence and malice, Joseph Pettito and Nicole Schmidt have experienced pain and suffering, mental anguish, annoyance, and loss of the ability to enjoy the life they experienced in the past and to be experienced in the future.”

Brian Laundry’s Notebook: Gabe Pettito’s Killer Confession Written Before Suicide, FBI Says

Read the lawsuit here:

The complaint further describes how Brian Laundry “is believed” to have “murdered Gabriel Pettito” on August 27, 2021.

Laundry then sent fake text messages between his cell and Petitto’s cell “in an attempt to hide the fact” that she had died, according to court and FBI documents.

The complaint alleges that Laundry confessed to his parents on August 28 and that the laundries hired attorney Steve Bertolino, an old friend, on September 2.

The photo shows the Sarasota County Courthouse where the family of Gabe Pettito is expected to attend a hearing in their case against Brian Laundry's parents on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

The photo shows the Sarasota County Courthouse where the family of Gabe Pettito is expected to attend a hearing in their case against Brian Laundry’s parents on Wednesday, June 22, 2022.
(Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

Bertolino and Luca’s associate attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case. Luca argued in court on Wednesday that there was “no legal basis” for the lawsuit against the laundries.

Luca told the court, the Petitto Schmidt families “argued that the laundries had an obligation, a duty to speak.” “In our society, under our laws, people are free not to speak.”

The judge asked several questions during Luca’s arguments in favor of dismissing the lawsuit, meanwhile, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Pettito, who were seated next to their attorney, remained silent.

Read the laundries movement for rejection:

Carroll referred to the recent trial involving actors Johnny Depp and Amber Heard while being questioned about whether an early statement from Bertolino counted as a statement from the laundries because it was issued on their behalf. He noted that Depp was recently found to have committed defamation due to a statement made by his attorney.

22-year-old Laundry and Pettito left for a trip in mid-June 2021 with a plan to visit the national parks in a white converted Ford Transit. The couple met years earlier in Long Island, New York, where they grew up and later moved to Brian’s parents’ home in Northport, Florida.

Laundry returned to Northport on September 1st with the truck, but without Pettito.

Gabi Pettito's family is seen entering a Florida courtroom ahead of the June 22, 2022 hearing.

Gabi Pettito’s family is seen entering a Florida courtroom ahead of the June 22, 2022 hearing.

After his disappearance, state, local, county and federal law enforcement extensively searched the reserve and Myakkahatchee, where Laundry was said to have parked his car at the time.

Gabi Pettito: FBI Closes Home Pesticide Investigation Because It Unearths Brian Laundry’s Notebook Confession

It wasn’t until 17 September that his family announced – four days after his alleged departure – that he had not returned.

Pettito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, reported her missing to New York’s Suffolk County Police on September 11. Search teams discovered Pettito’s body near Grant Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19 and announced shortly thereafter that she was the victim of a murder.

Laundry’s remains were found on October 20, 2021, at Myakkahatchee Creek Ecological Park, located in the 23-year-old’s hometown of North Port. His parents found Brian’s bag and other items while hiking with law enforcement in the area, where they reported to authorities that their son was frequenting. Fox News Digital captured exclusive photos and video of parents searching the swamp, where law enforcement officers finally made the grim discovery.

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Laundry was considered a fugitive and was someone concerned with the disappearance and death of Gabe Pettito. The FBI has issued an arrest warrant for him on charges related to his unauthorized use of a bank card.

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