The parents of Brian Laundrie have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit which alleged they knew their son killed Gabby Petito in Aug. 2021.
Petito's family claimed in the lawsuit filed earlier in March that Chris and Roberta Laundrie were told by their son what happened to Petito on Aug. 28, a day after the suit alleges Laundrie killed her. They also claim that the Laundries tried to help their son leave the country.
But on Wednesday, the Laundrie family sought to have the lawsuit thrown out, as a lawyer for the parents called the allegations in the lawsuit "baseless and frivolous."
"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 society but it embodies the exercise of fundamental rights under the United States and Florida Constitutions," a lawyer for the family said in a statement. "The Laundries’ rights are inalienable and the Laundries can never be liable for exercising their legal rights in a permissible way."
Petito's body was found Sept. 19 at a campground near Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming. A coroner determined the 22-year-old died about three weeks earlier of "blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation."
Laundrie, 23, returned home to Florida alone in early September but went missing soon after. In October, his parents found an item belonging to him in the nature preserve near their house, and soon after his remains were found in the preserve.
A medical examiner later determined Laudrie fatally shot himself.
FBI officials said Laundrie had admitted to killing Petito in a notebook that was found near his body. Laundrie had also sent text messages to intentionally deceive people that Petito was still alive after he beat and strangled her in late August, according to a statement released by the FBI in Denver.
The Petito family claims there was no contact between the two families after Brian Laundrie returned to Florida. It also mentions the vacation Laundrie's parents took to Fort DeSoto Park "while Gabrielle Petito’s family was suffering."
The suit from the Petito family claims that once the official search for Petito was underway and before her remains were found, the Laundrie family refused to respond to questions from law enforcement and Petito’s family. The suit claims Roberta Laundrie blocked Schmidt’s phone number and blocked her on Facebook around the time Petito was reported missing.
“This lawsuit does not change the fact that the Laundries had no obligation to speak to law enforcement or any third party including the Petito family,” the family attorney said after the lawsuit was filed. “This fundamental legal principle renders the Petitos' claims to be baseless under the law.”
Petito and Schmidt accuse the Laundrie family of acting "with malice or great indifference to the rights of" Petito’s family.
Petito's parents are seeking damages of at least $100,000, the suit states.