Brian Laundrie‘s family could face legal consequences under certain circumstances now that authorities have discovered the deceased 23-year-old’s remains, famed criminal defense lawyer Mark Geragos said.
The FBI on Thursday confirmed remains recovered from the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port, Florida were indeed Laundrie’s, after comparing dental records.
“Based on what we know so far… the only exposure, potential liability, would be either after the federal warrant was issued or if there was some assistance given while he was a fugitive,” Geragos told Fox News, meaning Laundrie’s parents would likely only be accused of a crime for actions committed after the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal arrest warrant for their son.
Laundrie was a person of interest in his fiancee Gabby Petito’s killing and wanted on about $1,000 worth of fraudulent debit card purchases between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.
The U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a federal warrant for Laundrie’s arrest on Sept. 23. Petito’s parents alleged Laundrie “stole” their daughter’s credit card.
Laundrie and Petito were traveling cross-country in a Ford Transit van before the 22-year-old woman disappeared. Laundrie returned to their Florida home, where he lived with his parents and Petito for about a year, without her on Sept. 1. Her parents say they were stonewalled by the Laundries and finally reported Petito missing on Sept. 11.
Laundrie’s parents had already retained attorney Steven Bertolino by the time Florida police arrived at their doorstep. The Laundries reported Brian missing on Sept. 17 but later clarified that they had last seen their son on Sept. 13.
“Early on during this, when people were speculating that [Laundrie’s] parents had done various things to assist [Laundrie], they said he was exposed,” Gregaros said of the now-deceased fugitive. “And I just thought that was a lot of chatter.”
He added that what gives him “pause,” however, is Bertolino’s statement saying the Laundries informed law enforcement on Tuesday night — a day before law enforcement discovered their son’s remains discovered — of their intentions to search the park on Wednesday. Bertolino confirmed at the time that while searching areas that Brian frequented, “some articles belonging to Brian were found.“
The Laundries, who have claimed their son went to Myakkahatchee on Sept. 13, left their North Port Wednesday morning for the environmental park. Law enforcement arrived at the park shortly after, and by Wednesday afternoon, law enforcement officials had discovered some of Brian Laundrie’s belongings, as well as his remains.
FBI Tampa special agent Michael McPherson on Thursday said the items belonging to Laundrie “were found in an area that, up until recently, had been underwater.”
Geragos questioned the timeline of events between Laundrie’s parents telling law enforcement they were going to search for Brian and the discovery of his belongings.
“Supposedly, within a very short period of time, they found not only a backpack and a notebook but his remains,” the criminal defense attorney said. “…That, to me, is going to reignite suspicion as to what their involvement may or may not have been.”
“In the criminal justice system, it’s always bad to have coincidences, and that’s just an awfully strange coincidence.”
He added that if he were in the Laundries’ position, he would “lay low” and not give any further statements.
If authorities believe Laundrie’s parents “did anything to assist flight” after the Wyoming court issued a warrant for their son’s arrest, “there’s exposure, potentially,” Geragos said.
Additionally, if Laundrie confessed to his parents “prior to fleeing,” that could potentially be “problematic” as well, Geragos said. Such an outcome, however, is purely speculative, the lawyer insisted.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.