CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

“Gabby Petito Act” signed into law in Florida

Apr 12, 2024, 4:41 PM | Updated: 5:24 pm

gabby petito shown, her death inspired a law meant to prevent other domestic violence deaths...

Petito was reported missing by her family in September 2021 after she embarked on a trip with Laundrie, her fiancé. (From Gabby Petito/Instagram via CNN)

(From Gabby Petito/Instagram via CNN)

SALT LAKE CITY — Florida is following in Utah’s footsteps, implementing a new law to protect people from domestic violence. It’s legislation Gabby Petito’s mom believes could have saved her daughter’s life.

 

Authorities say Petito was killed by her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, while on a cross-country road trip in 2021. Police in Moab had pulled them over before that and had seen her crying, but let them go.

“I can say that if they had used a lethality assessment I am certain my daughter would be alive today,” said Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt.

Now Florida is implementing the “Gabby Petito Act,” which requires officers investigating domestic violence incidents to administer lethality assessments. They involved asking the victims a series of questions, to determine whether a domestic violence victim is at greater risk of being killed or seriously injured.

Utah Lt. Gov.Deidre Henderson spoke with KSL NewsRadio about lethality assessments in June 2023, ahead of their implementation in the Beehive State.

“Those lethality assessments are proven to save lives,” Henderson said at the time. “They’re proven to identify people who are at high risk of being killed. About half of our law enforcement agencies voluntarily started conducting those, and those that did saw that benefit.”

Florida’s new law signals more states are seeing this as a way to prevent what happened to Petito from ever happening to someone else. 

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“Gabby Petito Act” signed into law in Florida