TAMPA (WFLA) – Authorities are only calling Brian Laundrie “a person of interest” in the missing person case of his fiancé 22-year-old Gabby Petito.
Local attorney and former prosecutor Bryant Camareno says there are legal reasons for law enforcement to use this label instead of calling someone a “suspect”.
“The real distinction is that purposes of liability, law enforcement is going to call you a person of interest for protection against slander of libel,” said Camareno who points out law enforcement can also use the “person of interest label” as a way to entice someone like Laundrie to speak to them.
“The idea is to send a message to that person of interest, hey come cooperate with us and then we’ll, you know, may be able to work this out,” said Camareno.
However, Camareno says prosecutors are limited in the ways they can get someone to talk or cooperate with an investigation because “persons of interest” and “suspects” have a constitutional right to remain silent.
For that reason, prosecutors have to consider the evidence they have in a case before making an offer to someone like Laundrie.
“I think the incentive would be, tell us now, if she’s still alive, tell us now, we can avoid the death murder case. If she’s dead, tell us where she is, help us locate the body, maybe we can avoid the death penalty or instead of a life sentence, maybe a term of years,” said Camareno.