The parents of Gabby Petito, the Blue Point native whose 2021 disappearance and homicide while on a cross-country road trip with her fiance captured national attention, have asked a Florida judge to add a Long Island attorney as a defendant to their lawsuit against the parents of their daughter’s admitted killer.
A motion filed in Sarasota County, Florida, on Tuesday seeks to add East Islip-based attorney Steven Bertolino, who represents the parents of Petito’s confessed killer and ex-fiance Brian Laundrie, to the pending legal action.
The accompanying amended complaint alleges that Bertolino was aware that Laundrie had killed Petito but issued public statements that gave the impression Petito could still be alive, including one on Sept. 14, 2021, that stated: “On behalf of the Laundry family, it is our hope that the search for Ms. Petito is successful and that Ms. Petito is reunited with his family.”
But Bertolino said Laundrie was “grieving” when he left his Florida home on Sept. 13, 2021 — the day before Bertolino released the statement expressing hope he would be found alive — according to comments he made in a televised interview later that year.
Laundrie died by suicide.
“It is believed that at the time the Sept. 14, 2021 a statement was issued, the Laundries and Steven Bertolino knew that Gabby Petito was dead, and that under those circumstances, the statement was insensitive, coldhearted and outrageous,” said Patrick J. Reilly, the Venice, Florida-based attorney for Petito’s parents, Nichole Schmidt and Joseph Petito.
Bertolino, who called the lawsuit “baseless” when it was first filed, did not respond Tuesday to a message seeking comment.
The judge in this case has not ruled on the request to add Bertolino as a defendant but previously called Bertolino’s Sept. 14, 2021, statement “objectively outrageous” in rejecting an