A new trial date has been set for the sparring parents of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie – the man who confessed to killing the Long Island native before taking his own life in 2021, according to reports.
Joseph Petito’s and Nichole Schmidt’s civil case against Christopher and Roberta Laundrie and their attorney, Steven Bertolino, is now slated to head to trial in May 2024 – nine months later than originally scheduled, according to records and a report from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The Petito-Schmidt family sued the Laundries in March 2022, arguing that the couple refused to divulge the whereabouts of Gabby’s body and helped their late son get away with her murder, according to the suit.
They further argued that the Laundries “knew of the mental suffering and anguish” the Petito-Schmidts had been enduring, the complaint states.
The document adds: “While Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt were desperately searching for information concerning their daughter, Christopher Laundrie and Roberta Laundrie were keeping the whereabouts of Brian Laundrie secret, and it is believed were making arrangements for him to leave the country.”
Months after bringing the case against the Laundries, the Petito-Schmidt families named Bertolino as the third defendant. Bertolino, a Long Island-based attorney who represented the Laundries during the duration of the search for Petito and the subsequent manhunt for Laundrie, has filed a motion to dismiss the case against him.
Court records show the Sarasota County civil trial was originally scheduled to begin in August 2023.
According to local news station WFLA, Petito-Schmidt attorney Patrick Reilly asked that the trial be moved to December 2023; Bertolino requested the proceedings begin around Fall of 2024. Matthew Luka, who is representing the Laundries in the civil case, asked that the trial begin sometime between both requested dates.
Gabby, 22, and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Brian, embarked in June 2021 on a months-long trip to visit national parks across the country in her Ford van. The couple met on Long Island and later moved into the North Port, Florida, home where Laundrie’s parents lived.
Brian returned to North Port in the van on Sept. 1, but without Gabby.
The Laundries said through their attorney that Brian had left the family’s home on Sept. 13 to hike in the nearby Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, which is located adjacent to the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve.
His family announced four days after he allegedly left for the hike that he had never returned.
After Brian’s disappearance, state, local, county and federal law enforcement extensively, but unsuccessfully, searched the reserve for any signs of him.
Search teams discovered Gabby’s body outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19. Authorities later revealed she died of “manual strangulation.”
Brian’s skeletal remains were discovered on Oct. 20, 2021, inside the Myakkahatchee. A Florida medical examiner determined that he shot himself on the left side of the head and animals then partially ravaged his body.
Brian was found to have left behind a lengthy note about Gabby that stated in part: “I ended her life.”
“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted,” he went on, “but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock.”