NORTH PORT, Fla. (WFLA) – From the day Brian Laundrie was name a person of interest in the Gabby Petito case, to the FBI search of his North Port home, the spotlight has also hit his parents.
Christopher and Roberta Laundrie were seen leaving their home Thursday morning, followed by police officers.
It has now been 10 days since the Laundries last saw their son, according to police, who have been searching Carlton Reserve for five out of the last six days.
Tampa attorney Cory Baird said the law did not forbid police from watching Laundrie before his parents say he went to the 25,000 acre preserve sandwiched between North Port and Venice.
“They could’ve put a car out in front of his house. They could’ve followed him if he left,” Baird said. “They didn’t need a warrant to do that. That is just part of a criminal investigation.”
While the law would not have stopped police surviellance of the 23-year-old, the Laundries are also not legally required to tell police what they know about their son’s location, according to attorney Bryant Camareno.
“There is no obligation for anyone, a family member or a civilian to say, ‘I know where he is, Or, so and so is taking the first flight out to mexico’ ” Camereno said.” There is nothing that says they’re obligated to do so.”
Baird said Florida law does not allow parents to be charged as accesories after the fact in some alleged crimes.
“Parents could be charged, assuming there is evidence to support the charge, if their son is charged with a first or second degree felony,” Baird said. “If he is charged with a third degree felony, they could not charge his parents.”
But he said there are no parental protections when there’s evidence parents covered up a crime.
“If they made misleading statements or lied to officers,” Baird said. “Obviously that’s a crime in Florida and they’re not protected from that.”
Camareno said there’s a federal statute that does not consider a parental relationship if someone helps conceal a crime.
“Where you’re aware of a crime and you do your best to cover it up, or you don’t report it. That could be a federal crime in and of itself,” Camareno said.