Attorney suggests Utah police encounter might be admissible in future Laundrie trial

In a typical criminal trial, prosecutors are generally barred from citing prior crimes in making their case against a defendant.

When such previous bad acts can serve to prove a possible motive, however, judges can grant an exception to that rule — and one attorney said this could be a factor if Brian Laundrie is ever put on trial for charges related to the death of his girlfriend Gabby Petito.

Relevant details

According to The U.S. Sun, Florida-based criminal defense attorney Ajay Pallegar speculated that otherwise inadmissible evidence of past convictions might be allowed as evidence against Laundrie if they “show motive, intent, knowledge, modus operandi, or lack of mistake.”

Specifically, he noted that police bodycam footage from an alleged domestic dispute involving Laundrie and Petito in Moab, Utah, could fall into that category.

Pallegar provided insight on the case during a recent Fox News Channel appearance.

Petito went missing a short time after the Utah incident and her body was later found in Wyoming. A medical examiner’s report determined that her death was a homicide caused by manual strangulation.

In Florida, where Laundrie was last seen before he also disappeared more than a month ago, the law would permit that evidence to be admitted in court, Pallegar advised. He also expressed his belief that the law is similar in Wyoming, where the homicide appears to have occurred.

Manhunt underway

If accurate, Pallegar’s assessment means the Moab police footage might be a key element of a Laundrie trial, assuming he is eventually captured and charged in connection with Petito’s death.

So far, Laundrie has only been labeled a person of interest in the matter and is wanted by police on suspicion of fraud for using Petito’s bank card to make unauthorized purchases.

The case has attracted widespread media attention as a manhunt remains underway to locate Laundrie. Local, state, and federal officials have scoured areas including a Florida nature preserve in an effort to find him.

Private investigators and bounty hunters have also staged their own searches, though none have resulted in solid evidence. Speculation has continued to mount regarding Laundrie’s possible whereabouts as well as whether he is even still alive.

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