Attorney says fiancé will not speak about Gabby Petito’s disappearance

Reporter: Gail Levy, Breana Ross Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

The attorney representing Brian Laundrie says his client will remain silent on the advice of counsel regarding the disappearance of his fiancée, 22-year-old Gabby Petito.

Statement from Attorney Steven Bertolino, “Many people are wondering why Mr. Laundrie would not make a statement or speak with law enforcement in the face of Ms. Petito’s absence. In my experience, intimate partners are often the first person law enforcement focuses their attention on in cases like this and the warning that “any statement made will be used against you” is true, regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance. As such, on the advice of counsel, Mr. Laundrie is not speaking on this matter.

I have been informed that the North Port, Florida police have named Brian Laundrie as a “person of interest: in this matter. This formality has not really changed the circumstances of Mr. Laundrie being the focus and attention of law enforcement and Mr. Laundrie will continue to remain silent on the advice of counsel.”

We know, weeks before Gabby disappeared, she and Laundrie got into an argument in Arches National Park in Utah.

A witness says they saw Gabby slap Brian, and saw Brian push her away. That witness said he called for the police because he feared for the worst.

Gabby’s parents want answers about what happened out west.

Sometime during Aug. 12, Gabby and Brian explored Arches National Park in Utah.

“She was enjoying every minute of her journey, and we enjoyed the photos,” stepdad James Schmidt said. we enjoyed all the videos and stuff.

According to the police report, Brian did say the past couple of months the couple had spent traveling together was a lot leading to emotional strain and lots of arguments.

That is something Gabby’s family won’t speak about.

“We’re not going to comment on that stuff,” her stepdad said.

According to the report, Gabby was crying uncontrollably, breathing heavily and couldn’t speak a full sentence without wiping tears from her eyes.

It’s an additional reason neighbors want to hear Brian’s side of the story.

“He needs to come out and tell the truth instead of hiding behind closed doors,” Cynthia Summerson said.

North Port police and Gabby’s family want Brian to speak.

“He needs to talk to us,” said Joshua Taylor, the public information officer for the City of North Port. “We need to know exactly where he was, where she was, their last locations, the fact that he was back here for 10 days.”

“It’s frustrating that you know obviously we know he’s home; the van’s here,” Schmidt said. “She’s not. They released what you could call a statement, which is completely unacceptable to us. If the roles were reversed, they would want everybody and anyone to be providing any information, and that’s what we want.”

Gabby’s family also released a new statement that called out Brian for remaining silent. All they want now are answers.

A criminal defense attorney we spoke to explained, no matter who begs, Laundrie never has to break his silence.

“Until the day he dies, whether that be 100 years or whether that be tomorrow, he has the right to remain silent,” Attorney Lance Dunford said. “There’s nothing that law enforcement can do to compel testimony out of him.”

Dunford says Brian’s parents have that right too. He explained, even if Brian’s parents know something, there is no legal responsibility to speak about it, no legal responsibility to report Gabby missing.

“No duty comes to mind of having to report somebody missing. Adults have free will,” Dunford said. “They could not be compelled to speak, and also in that situation, I think it would be quite a grab and a stretch to try to put them in as an accessory.”

Dunford said, even if Brian and his parents never speak, law enforcement can still build their case, still piece together the puzzle however complex or challenging that might be.

“They have access to subpoenas or request subpoenas and different warrants to get access for things that in this day and age, allow law enforcement to work backwards without even needing somebody’s statement,” Dunford said.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.