Judge Completely Lashes Out At Brian Laundrie's Family

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie were high school sweethearts. They got engaged in 2020 and decided to embark on a four-month road trip before marrying. They packed up their van and headed off in July 2021. Petito's folks were confident their daughter would be safe with her fiance along for the ride. Her parents described Laundrie as a "polite" and "nice guy" who everyone liked. "I felt like she would be okay. I thought he would take care of her," mom Nicole Schmidt told "60 Minutes."

Everything appeared peachy as they posted grinning selfies from all over. However, there'd been severe bumps in the road during their journey. Per the New York Post, cops reported Laundrie was covered in scratches after he and Petito had "some sort of altercation" in Utah on August 12. Two weeks later, they were spotted furiously fighting in Wyoming.

On August 30, Schmidt received a strange text supposedly from her daughter, but she believed was written by someone else. Two days later, Laundrie returned to his parents' home all alone. A manhunt for Petito began on September 11, and Laundrie disappeared six days later. Petito's body was found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on September 19; she'd been strangled. On October 20, Laundrie's remains were discovered in a Florida swamp. He'd taken his own life. As the tragedy sunk in, a bitter legal battle broke out between the grieving parents. The latest court update includes a judge completely lashing out at Laundrie's family.

The judge called Brian Laundrie's family 'callous and cruel'

When Brian Laundrie returned home solo, his family went into lockdown. They refused to speak with the cops or Gabby Petito's family. However, attorney Patrick Reilly released a statement on the Laundries' behalf in September 2021. "We hope that the search is successful and Miss Petito is reunited with her family," it read in part, per BayNews 9. In January 2022, the FBI revealed that Laundrie admitted to murdering Petito in a journal discovered next to his body.

Laundrie's notebook confession, which was released in June, insisted he'd acted in kindness after Petito injured herself. "I ended her life. I thought it was merciful that it is what she wanted, but now I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock," he claimed (via NBC). Petito's family sued the Laundries, alleging they knew about the murder and withheld information during the search for their daughter. They demanded $30,000 for emotional pain and suffering caused.

Reilly filed a motion to dismiss the Petito family's lawsuit, claiming their case was baseless. Per People, the attorney argued that under the first and fifth amendments, his clients had been under no obligation to speak. Judge Hunter Carroll agreed, but ruled that their September 2021 statement relinquished those rights. "Had the Laundries truly stayed silent, the court would have granted the motion to dismiss in the Laundries favor. But they did not stay silent," he said, calling the family's actions "particularly callous and cruel."