Laundrie attorney Steven Bertolino denies deal with FBI and insists parents not facing charges

The attorney said he was “a little bit angry” about conspiracy theories claiming the Laundries planted items in the Carlton Reserve

Graig Graziosi
Friday 22 October 2021 18:29
Brian Laundrie's parents reveal final moments with him
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Steven Bertolino, the attorney representing Brian Laundrie and his parents, sat down with NBC News on Thursday, just hours after learning that the skull fragments found in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park the previous day belonged to his client.

During the interview, Mr Bertolino revealed that he is a long-time friend of the Laundries and said he watched both Mr Laundrie and his sister, Cassie, grow up. He said that Chris Laundrie, Mr Laundrie's father, confirmed to him that the remains found on Wednesday were his son's.

When asked how the parents were taking the news, Mr Bertolino said that a parent learning their child has died is "sad under any circumstances," going on to say that the protesters who have been heckling the Laundries for weeks have not made the grieving process easier.

Mr Bertolino said he did not want to speculate on Mr Laundrie's cause of death, saying he would prefer to wait on a judgement from law enforcement officials.

Some commenters on social media have treated the discovery of Mr Laundrie's items by his parents on Wednesday as suspicious, pointing out that a day after the park re-opened the parents seemed to located the items without much difficulty, even after weeks of exhaustive police searches. More conspiracy minded commenters even suggested the Laundrie parents planted the items in the reserve.

Mr Bertolino addressed those suspicions, saying the parents wanted to go search the reserve themselves since the park had just reopened to the public. He urged them to alert law enforcement, which they did. It was during their search in the morning with law enforcement that Chris Laundrie found a dry bag belonging to his son. Later, police found the skeletal human remains.

North Port police have said they are "100 per cent confident" neither of the Laundries brought any of the discovered items with them into the park that day.

"I'm a little bit angry that people are even speculating this way," Mr Bertolino said. He pointed out that North Port police put out a statement saying they had searched the area previously but it was underwater at the time due to heavy rains in September.

"John Q Public can't get it through their head that this area was inaccessible and that the items located yesterday perhaps couldn't be seen," he said. He called the theories "ludicrous" and "nonsensical."

When asked about Gabby Petito's family, Mr Bertolino dodged the question, choosing to focus instead on the rampant conspiracy theories about himself and the Laundrie parents. He did note that the Petito's suffered a "grave loss," and that anyone with "humanity" should have sympathy for what both families were going through.

The attorney went on to say that the case was far from over, as he has yet to talk with law enforcement officials about various details of his interactions with Mr Laundrie and his parents, but said that today "was not the time" to talk about those issues. He also said he had "no reason to believe" that Mr Laundrie's parents would be charged with crimes.

NBC New's Tom Llamas then asked Mr Bertolino if any deals had been discussed between himself and the FBI, which Mr Bertolino denied, saying that charges were discussed but that there was no "threat, no coercion, and no deal was cut."

When asked why the Laundries have not spoken to law enforcement or the press about Ms Petito and their son's disappearance, Mr Bertolino said it was because he told them not to speak with anyone.

The attorney also revealed details of Brian Laundrie's final day at home with his family. According to Mr Bertolino, Mr Laundrie's father said his son was very upset before he left the house, and that he wished he "hadn't let him go but he couldn't stop him." Mr Bertolino said the Laundries did not know their son was going to disappear when he left the house on 12 September.

Mr Laundrie became the focus of a manhunt after he returned home on 1 September from a road trip without his girlfriend, Ms Petito. The pair had been traveling throughout the western US, documenting their trip on social media.

Ms Petito’s body was eventually discovered on 19 September in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Her death was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation.

Mr Laundrie left his home on 12 September without speaking to police and disappeared. A search for him began on 17 September, but his remains were not located until 20 October after water in the Carlton Reserve receded.

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