Gabby Petito murder: Judge recalls Johnny Depp v Amber Heard verdict in suit against Brian Laundrie's parents
The effect of the defamation case of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is still around the world; the latest being the Florida courthouse. Judge Hunter W Carroll, on June 22, brought up the example of the Depp v Heard legal battle in a lawsuit that has been filed by Gabby Petito's parents, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Petito, against Christopher and Roberta, the parents of Brian Laundrie, the fiance who murdered Gabby in 2021.
Gabby’s parents allege that Brian’s parents released a misleading statement through their lawyer that their daughter was still alive when they were already aware that she has been killed by their son, Brian. Robert and Christopher's attorney stated in court that the couple had no legal obligation to speak on the matter which didn't go well with the judge, as per reports by Radar. The judge, who heard the case and will decide whether the lawsuit should go to a jury trial, questioned, "Aren't we responsible for the words that we say when we say them? I mean, Johnny Depp just got found civilly liable for defamation by what his attorney said, right?"
As per CNN, in their court filings in March, Gabby's parents said Laundrie's parents "exhibited extreme and outrageous conduct and requested just compensation for the damages they have suffered, together with costs, and such other relief." Their lawsuit alleges that Brian's parents knew about killing Gabby around August 28 and that they refused to respond when they were inquired whether the 22-year-old woman was alive or not. In a statement sent to CNN, Laundrie's family attorney Steven Bertolino tagged the lawsuit as baseless and frivolous. He said as Laundrie's parents asked the court to dismiss the civil lawsuit, "The Laundries have exercised their constitutional right to refrain from speaking and have relied on counsel to speak for them. This is not only common practice in our civilized community but it embodies the exercise of fundamental rights under the United States and Florida Constitutions."
No trial date has been set in the case as of now. Judge Carroll said he would make a decision on the lawsuit against Laundrie's parents within the next two weeks.
The Gabby Petito murder
Gabby, who had gone on a cross-country trip with Brian last summer, was first reported missing by her family in September. While Brian returned alone to the couple's Florida home, where his parents also lived, went missing just two weeks later. After a massive search for Brian in a Florida reserve, authorities in Teton County, Wyoming, found Gabby’s remains. The reports later ruled she died by strangulation. In October end, Brian’s remains were also found in the area of the Florida reserve. A medical examiner ruled he died by suicide. As part of his search, authorities found a notebook in which they said Brian claimed responsibility for Gabby’s death.