Chris and Roberta Laundrie were notable absences as the Petito’s attorney Pat Reilly argued they had deliberately withheld information that could have saved the vlogger’s family immense suffering.
That was in contrast to the Petitos: Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, and step-parents Tara Petito and Jim Schmidt appeared in person at the Sarasota County Circuit Court in Venice, Florida.
Mr Reilly argued that a statement made by the Laundries through their attorney Steve Bertolino on 16 September in which they expressed hope that she would be found alive was deliberately deceitful.
It was a “lie that gave false hope”, Mr Reilly told the court.
“They knew, starting on August 28 , 2021, that Gabby was dead. They knew where Gabby’s body was. They knew that the Petito family was desperately searching for information,” Mr Reilly said.
He said the Laundries had a “warm and friendly” relationship with the Petito family prior to their daughter going missing.
Ms Petito had lived with them for a year, and they had visited Mr Petito’s Florida home.
“They knew how much Gabby meant to Joe and Nichole,” he said.
“There was a course of conduct that was outrageous, culminating in the statement that they put out.”
Judge Judge Hunter W. Carroll said he would to make a written decision on whether the case can proceed in the next two weeks.
Ms Petito and Laundrie set off in their campervan on a cross-country trip in July 2021 and had been documenting their travels on YouTube.
On 1 September, Laundrie returned to his parents’ home alone.
It later emerged that police in Moab, Utah, had separated the couple for a night in August after receiving a 911 call from an eyewitness who saw Laundrie physically assault Ms Petito.
Ms Petito’s parents reported her missing on 11 September after they couldn’t get in contact with her and Laundrie was refusing to say where she was.
Laundrie went on the run days later with his family telling police he was heading into the nature reserve close to their home.
On 19 September, Ms Petito’s remains were found in a Wyoming national park with her autopsy confirming that she had been strangled to death.
Weeks later on 20 October, Laundrie’s remains were found inside the Florida reserve. He appears to have died by suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
In a notebook found with his remains, he confessed to murdering his girlfriend, authorities said.