The judge's decision hinges on Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino's statement he made during the search. It said: “On behalf of the Laundrie family it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family."
Judge says this statement shows the Laundries did not merely just stay silent. They spoke through this statement. And it allows for the Petitos argument that they were misled (Petitos claim Laundries knew Gabby was dead at that time). And being misled caused suffering.