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Lawyer predicts Gabby Petito’s autopsy results will lead to a first degree murder charge

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Gabby Petito’s autopsy results revealing she was strangled to death will likely lead to a first degree murder charge, a former prosecutor predicted on Tuesday.

Mark Eiglarsh, a criminal defense attorney and former Miami-Dade County prosecutor, said killing someone in such a way ‘almost always gets you first-degree murder because premeditation can be formed in an instant.’ 

Therefore, he said, whoever is arrested over the death of the 22-year-old from New York can expect to be hit with a first degree murder charge. 

His comments came after the Grand Teton County coroner Brent Blue released Petito’s cause of death as strangulation, but could not release any more information due to Wyoming law.

Petito’s fiancee Brian Laundrie, 23, is still the only named person of interest in her death. He was reported missing himself on September 17, with his parents telling police he went to the nearby Carlton Reserve and never returned.

Two days later, on September 19, authorities found Petito’s body at a campsite near the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, and her death was ruled a homicide.   

Her body was found three to four weeks after her death, the coroner said.   

In Wyoming, first-degree murder is punishable by death or life imprisonment. Homicide can also result in manslaughter, second-degree murder or other charges.  

Gabby Petito’s (pictured right) autopsy results revealing she was strangled to death will likely lead to a first degree murder charge, a former prosecutor said on Tuesday. Petito’s fiancee Brian Laundrie (pictured left), 23, is still the only named person of interest in her death.

On Thursday, a picture of a memorial bench to Gabby Petito was released. The bench will be placed outside North Port, Florida’s city hall building to replace the temporary one that was set up by mourners after her death

On Thursday, a picture of a memorial bench to Gabby Petito was released. The bench will be placed outside North Port, Florida’s city hall building to replace the temporary one that was set up by mourners after her death

Another tribute to Petito, a mural depicting her with angel wings, is also almost finished. A picture of the mural in Blue Point, NY was shared by Joe Petito, Gabby's father, on his Instagram page

Another tribute to Petito, a mural depicting her with angel wings, is also almost finished. A picture of the mural in Blue Point, NY was shared by Joe Petito, Gabby’s father, on his Instagram page

Speaking to Fox News, Eiglarsh gave his reasoning behind his first-degree murder charge prediction. ‘You put your hands around the neck, that’s an unwanted touching, that’s simple battery or assault,’ he said.

‘Then you start to squeeze, your argument could be, “Well, I just wanted to scare them.” But then you contuse to affix pressure… There’s a certain amount of minimal time that someone needs to do that before somebody is dead,’ Eiglarsh said.

‘I think there’s a strong argument that if premeditation didn’t exist prior to the physical contact, it certainly was developed at some point during the strangulation.’ 

On Thursday, a picture of a memorial bench to Gabby Petito was released. The bench will be placed outside North Port, Florida’s city hall building to replace the temporary one that was set up by mourners after her death.

City officials told Fox that it would be placed between trees and in the shade, just feet away from where the makeshift memorial was.

The bench is being made by Aaron Betzner, a steelworker from Indiana, who said he wanted to pay respects to the young woman upon hearing of her death. He has said he will drive it to North Port himself once it is finished.

Another tribute to Petito, a mural depicting her with angel wings, is also almost finished. A picture of the mural in Blue Point, NY was shared by Joe Petito, Gabby’s father, on his Instagram page.

‘A huge thank you to Tess Parker for what she has done so far with the mural in Blue Point,’ he wrote in the caption. ‘It looks amazing, and I’m sure when it’s complete, it will look beautiful.’ 

Speaking on Tuesday, criminal defense attorney and former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan said that law enforcement have likely been given much more information than has been released to the republic by the coroner. 

The Teton County Coroner’s Office has released DNA to the police, according to WPBF 25, and the information, Kaplan said, would likely either rule out Laundrie, or connect him to Petito’s death. 

The suspect could already have been named behind closed doors, he added.

‘That piece of information, I would bet, has gone into grand jury – there is now a sealed indictment for the apprehension for the person who is responsible for the death of Gabby Petito,’ Kaplan told WPBF 25.

‘This can of course include him [Brian Laundrie] as being the attacker or responsible person for causing Gabby Petito’s death or it could exclude him.’ 

He believes it is unlikely the suspect’s name will be released until after an arrest is made.  

Mark Eiglarsh, a criminal defense attorney and former Miami-Dade County prosecutor (pictured appearing on Megyn Kelly Today in 2017), said strangulation 'almost always gets you first-degree murder because premeditation can be formed in an instant'

Mark Eiglarsh, a criminal defense attorney and former Miami-Dade County prosecutor (pictured appearing on Megyn Kelly Today in 2017), said strangulation ‘almost always gets you first-degree murder because premeditation can be formed in an instant’

Petito's stepfather Jim Schmidt left a stone cross and flowers in the exact location where her body was found in Wyoming on September 19 (pictured)

Petito’s stepfather Jim Schmidt left a stone cross and flowers in the exact location where her body was found in Wyoming on September 19 (pictured)

Kaplan, this time speaking to Fox News, said: ‘Generally when there’s a strangulation, when someone is acting out in a rage of violence, the victim will try to fend off that attacker.

‘Oftentimes, there is DNA transfer — most of the time it will be under the fingernails, where someone is trying to claw someone or scratch someone. Those transfers of DNA will either rule in Brian Laundrie or potentially could exclude him.’ 

The FBI are reported to have gone to Laundrie’s family home in North Port, Florida on September 26 to compare DNA.

The FBI requested some personal items belonging to Brian Laundrie to assist them with DNA matching and Brian’s parents provided the FBI with what they could,’ Laundrie’s lawyer, Steven Bertolino said last month. 

Eiglarsh noted to the news network that even if Laundrie’s DNA is found on Petito’s remains, it would have to be found in specific places to implicate him since he was not a stranger to the victim, and some of his DNA would be expected on her body.

Laundrie is wanted by police on debit card fraud charges after he used a card belonging to Petito between August 30 and September 1.  

Petito 's body was released by the Wyoming coroner to a local mortuary on Wednesday for cremation, a day after officials announced the cause of death

Petito ‘s body was released by the Wyoming coroner to a local mortuary on Wednesday for cremation, a day after officials announced the cause of death 

Laundrie (pictured) was reported missing himself on September 17, with his parents telling police he went to the nearby Carlton Reserve and never returned

Laundrie (pictured) was reported missing himself on September 17, with his parents telling police he went to the nearby Carlton Reserve and never returned

Petito’s body was released by the Wyoming coroner to a local mortuary on Wednesday for cremation, a day after officials announced the cause of death, with her father Joseph Petito traveling to to state to collect her ashes and bring them home to New York.

The coroner refused to reveal several details about the autopsy’s findings including: the condition of Petito’s body, if her body was buried, whether any drugs were found in her system and whether she was killed in the same spot her body was found.

He did confirm that Petito was not pregnant at the time of her death – after internet sleuths circulated that theory online in recent days. Blue added that DNA samples had been taken by law enforcement as the investigation into her murder and who was responsible continues.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg said Laundrie’s DNA might not appear on the samples found on Petito’s body due to the time her body spent exposed to the elements, but other evidence like cell phone records could still be used against him, according to WPFB’s Carbonare. 

Laundrie’s family have been refusing to answer questions and are still citing the Reserve as the last place Brian was seen.

Brian Laundrie’s father refused to answer questions as he mowed his lawn around a makeshift memorial for his fugitive son’s late fiancée Wednesday morning – 19 hours after a coroner announced Gabby Petito cause of death. 

Pictured: (left to right) Tara Petito, Joseph Petito, Jim Schmidt and Nichole Schmidt, all show their brand new tattoos at the press conference in Bohemia, Long island, that say "Let it be", the same tattoo that Gabby had. September 28, 2021. Joseph will bring her ashes back to Long Island, New York

Pictured: (left to right) Tara Petito, Joseph Petito, Jim Schmidt and Nichole Schmidt, all show their brand new tattoos at the press conference in Bohemia, Long island, that say “Let it be”, the same tattoo that Gabby had. September 28, 2021. Joseph will bring her ashes back to Long Island, New York

Brian Laundrie is still the only named person-of-interest in the case. A former FBI agent told WPBF 25 that likely a suspect has already been named behind closed doors after the Coroner's Office sent DNA to the police. 'This can of course include him [Brian Laundrie] as being the attacker or responsible person for causing Gabby Petito’s death or it could exclude him,' Stuart Kaplan said

Brian Laundrie is still the only named person-of-interest in the case. A former FBI agent told WPBF 25 that likely a suspect has already been named behind closed doors after the Coroner’s Office sent DNA to the police. ‘This can of course include him [Brian Laundrie] as being the attacker or responsible person for causing Gabby Petito’s death or it could exclude him,’ Stuart Kaplan said

In a video posted to Twitter the morning after the coroner’s announcement, Chris Laundrie, 62, was recorded with a grass cutter trimming blades close to the memorial for Petito set up in his front lawn while being questioned by a reporter.

During Wednesday’s gardening task, Chris Laundrie avoided caution tape, bouquets of flowers and photos of 22-year-old Petito while ignoring questions asked by a man off camera. 

‘Is there anything you want to say?’ he asked. Chris didn’t reply.

‘Is there anything you want people to know? You and Roberta haven’t said anything,’ he added, which Chris also completely ignored.   

Brian Laundrie's father Chris, 62, was filmed trimming the grass around a makeshift memorial for his fugitive son's late fiancée Wednesday morning - 19 hours after the coroner announced Gabby Petito was strangled

Brian Laundrie’s father Chris, 62, was filmed trimming the grass around a makeshift memorial for his fugitive son’s late fiancée Wednesday morning – 19 hours after the coroner announced Gabby Petito was strangled

Supposed protestors gathered outside the Laundrie's North Port, Florida, home and asked Chris: 'Is there anything you want people to know? You and Roberta haven't said anything,' to which he completely ignored

Supposed protestors gathered outside the Laundrie’s North Port, Florida, home and asked Chris: ‘Is there anything you want people to know? You and Roberta haven’t said anything,’ to which he completely ignored

Chris was seen avoiding the caution tape, bouquets of flowers and pictures of Petito as he cut the grass

Chris was seen avoiding the caution tape, bouquets of flowers and pictures of Petito as he cut the grass

The video was filmed just 19 hours after the coroner ruled that Petito was strangled to death and exactly one month since Laundrie went on the run

The video was filmed just 19 hours after the coroner ruled that Petito was strangled to death and exactly one month since Laundrie went on the run

Supposed protesters were also at the Laundrie residence in North Port last night attempting to confront Chris and his wife Roberta as they banged on the door and demanded that the couple ‘speak up soon.’ 

The clip of Chris Laundrie emerged as Petito’s grieving parents made their way to Wyoming to recover her remains, three weeks after her body was found near Grand Teton National Park. 

The Teton County coroner announcd on Tuesday that she died of manual strangulation. Petito’s parents are expecting to return home to Long Island, New York, this weekend with her ashes, according to Fox.  

Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue released the cause of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger's death in a videoconference press briefing (above) Tuesday afternoon

Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue released the cause of the 22-year-old van-life vlogger’s death in a videoconference press briefing (above) Tuesday afternoon

Petito's family is headed to Wyoming to reunite with her. They are set to return home to Long Island, New York, this weekend with Petito's ashes. Pictured L-R: stepmother Tara Petito, father Joe Petito, mother Nicole Schmidt, family attorney, stepfather Jim Schmidt

Petito’s family is headed to Wyoming to reunite with her. They are set to return home to Long Island, New York, this weekend with Petito’s ashes. Pictured L-R: stepmother Tara Petito, father Joe Petito, mother Nicole Schmidt, family attorney, stepfather Jim Schmidt

Hours after Petito’s cause of death was announced, a man was filmed outside their Florida home shouting: ‘Come on dirty Laundries. Come on, you guys like to strangle people.

You and your little b**** a** son. It’s time to wake up and face the consequences.’

The Laundries haven’t been arrested or accused of any crime.  

After the protesters left Chris stepped into view of nearby camera lenses twice, including on one occasion when he appeared to lock the door, Fox reported.

Police arrived at the home minutes later after a car passed the house honking its horn for several seconds.

Laundrie has been on the run for exactly one month. His parents allege he was last seen on September 13. 

On September 1 he returned home early from the cross-country road trip he was on with Petito in the white camper van. 

The couple were involved in a domestic incident on August 12 in Moab, Utah, in which a witness alerted police to a man ‘slapping the girl’. Petito said that Laundrie ‘grabbed’ her face, but she also told officers that she slapped him.

Last week Chris joined FBI agents in the search for his son at in the vast 24,565-acre Carlton Reserve where there a supposed ‘fresh campsite’ was found. 

But the discovery was denied by investigators and the joint search proved fruitless.

On October 6 Chris joined FBI agents in their search for his son at the Carlton Reserve where he and police believed his son was located. The search was fruitless

On October 6 Chris joined FBI agents in their search for his son at the Carlton Reserve where he and police believed his son was located. The search was fruitless

The Laundrie family did not join the FBI in the manhunt in any of their searches after the search with the fugitive’s father came up short on October 7.  

North Port Police in Florida revealed the next day that the sole person of interest in Petito’s homicide had been placed under surveillance in the days before he went on the run.

Police spokesperson Josh Taylor told CNN Laundrie was being closely watched by authorities to the best of their abilities, at a time when Petito was still classed as missing and not dead and when a warrant had not yet been issued for Laundrie’s arrest.

Taylor provided no further details about the extent of this surveillance or how Laundrie was then able to slip through the net. 

It is not clear if investigators ever had proof of his presence at the Laundrie family home in North Port, from when Petito was reported missing on September 11 to when his family revealed Laundrie had vanished on September 17. 

Investigators have confirmed they never spoke to, or saw, Laundrie that day as his family lawyered-up and denied police entry to their home to speak with him. Instead, the timeline of his disappearance appears to largely rest on accounts given by Laundrie’s parents Christopher and Roberta – accounts that have changed this week. 

Petito was reported missing on September 11 and her body was found on September 19

Petito was reported missing on September 11 and her body was found on September 19

Timeline of Gabby Petito case 

July 1: Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie left Blue Point, New York for a cross-country road trip

Aug 12: Police in Moab, Utah respond to a domestic incident involving the couple

Aug 17: Laundrie allegedly flies back to Florida to ‘clear out a storage unit’   

Aug 21: Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, has his last FaceTime video call with his daughter who was in Salt Lake City, Utah 

Aug 23: Laundrie flies back to Utah to ‘rejoin Gabby’ on their trip 

Aug 24: Petito is last seen at a hotel in Salt Lake City with Laundrie

Aug 25: Petito makes final call to her mother, Nicole Schmidt, saying she was in Grand Teton National Park

Aug 25 or 26: The couple chats with the owner of a shop called ‘Rustic Row’ in Victor, Utah for about 20 minutes 

Aug 27: Video of Petito’s van was taken by blogger Jenn Bethune, of Red White & Bethune, around 6.30pm at the Spread Creek Campground; Witnesses say they saw a ‘commotion’ with the couple at Merry Piglets Tex-mex restaurant in Jackson, Wyoming – if accurate, this appears to be the last known sighting of Petito 

Aug 29: The day that Wisconsin TikToker Miranda Baker claimed that she and her boyfriend were approached by Laundrie at Grand Teton National Park and asked them for a ride at 5.30pm; Schmidt says she is not entertaining this claim and believes it possibly factual

Aug 30: Schmidt receives the last text from Petito: ‘No service in Yosemite’

Sept 1: Laundrie returns to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida in a van without Petito

Sept 6-7: Laundrie and his parents visit Fort De Soto campsite in Florida

Sept 11: Schmidt reports Petito missing to authorities in New York; Petito and Laundrie’s van was impounded by police in Florida that same day

Sept 12: Grand Teton National Park rangers search for Petito

Sept 13: Laundrie’s lawyer says on October 5 that his parents now ‘believe’ this was the day they last saw him heading for a hike

Sept 14: Laundrie issues a statement about Petito’s disappearance through his lawyer; Laundrie’s parents claim on September 17 that Laundrie left his parents’ home for a hike this day and they hadn’t seen from him since 

Sept 15: Laundrie is officially named a person of interest in Petito’s case

Sept 17: Laundrie family attorney confirms his whereabouts are unknown

Sept 18: North Port police and the FBI start searching the Carlton Reserve in Sarasota County for missing Brian Laundrie

Sept 19: Bethune realizes she has video of Petito’s van around 12am and submits the FBI with the footage 10 minutes later; Officials announce a body was found near Grand Teton National Park that matched Petito’s description in the afternoon

Sept 21: Coroner confirms remains found in Grand Tetons belong to Petito. Her death is ruled a homicide but her cause of death is still under investigation

Sept 20 – 22: FBI and North Port police continue search for Laundrie in Carton Reserve 

Sept 22: Neighbors say they saw the Laudrie family pack up their detached camper on the day Gabby was reported missing. DailyMail.com photos show the camper was back in the driveway two days later, on September 13 

Sept 23: FBI issues an arrest warrant for Laundrie for ‘use of unauthorized access device’ for fraudulently using a Capitol One Bank debit card that was not his between August 30 and September 1 to spend $1,000; A probe is launched into the police handling of the Utah police incident on August 12; Laundrie’s parents visit their attorney in Orlando 

Sept 25: Dog the Bounty Hunter joins the search for Laundrie 

Sept 26: A funeral is held for Petito in Holbrook, New York, and her family launch a charity to help parents find missing children 

Sept 27: Manhunt for Laundrie in the Carlton Reserve is scaled back after 10 day search doesn’t find him. Dog the Bounty Hunter says Laundrie and his parents stayed at Fort De Soto Park from September 1-3 and September 6-8 – and that on the latter visit only the parents left 

Sept 28: Laundrie’s mom is accused of using a burner phone to contact her son September 29: Documents reveal Laundrie’s mom canceled a reservation for the Fort De Soto Park campsite for two from September 1 to 3 and booked for three from September 6 to 8; FBI seizes surveillance footage from site; FBI investigates lead Laundrie bought a burner phone on September 14; Dog the Bounty Hunter searches the area near Fort De Soto finding a recently drunk can of Monster Energy at a makeshift campsite deep in the woods 

Sept 30: Bodycam footage from a second officer at the August 12 incident is released showing a distressed Petito admitting Laundrie hit her; FBI agents collect more evidence from the Laundrie home 

Oct 1: It emerges Laundrie’s sister had contact with him after she said she did 

Oct 2: A hiker along the Appalachian Trail claims to have seen Laundrie near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina 

Oct 3: Investigators searched the area on the Appalachian trail for any signs that Laundrie had been there  

Oct 4: Laundrie’s sister told protestors outside her home that her family has been ignoring her after they rebuked her story and that she does not know where her brother is

Oct 5: Laundrie’s sister appeared on Good Morning America to say she would turn her brother in if she knew where he is; The Laundrie attorney says his parents now ‘believe’ he went on the run one day earlier than they first claimed (September 13 not 14) meaning he had a four-day headstart before they reported him missing to authorities; The attorney also says Laundrie flew from Utah to Florida on August 17 without Petito to clear out a storage unit then returned on August 23; A hiker reports a sighting of a person he believed to be Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the Tennessee border

Oct 6: Petito’s parents and step-parents appear together on Dr. Phil to discuss their daughter’s death. Her family paints a vivid picture of the scene where her body was found and encourages Laundrie to turn himself in; The Laundrie family lawyer says his father Christopher went to look for him on the night of Sept. 13 when he didn’t return from the park

Oct 7: Laundrie’s father Christopher joins FBI agents on the search for his son at the Carlton Reserve but the search brings up no clues; FBI says it is also investigating 11 alleged sightings of Laundrie along the Appalachian Trail near the North Carolina-Tennessee border; investigators confirmed neither Petito or Laundrie’s phones were found in the couple’s campervan

Oct 8: North Port Police spokesperson says there is a ‘lot of oddness’ with Laundrie’s parents handling of the situation and that ‘a lot of things that didn’t make sense’ about their version of events

Oct 12: Teton County Coroner Dr Brent Blue announces autopsy findings which show Petito died by strangulation; No specific date of death was given – only that she was dead 3-4 weeks before her body was found 

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