Boxer Gatti's Death Could've Been Suicide: Report | NBC New York

Boxer Gatti's Death Could've Been Suicide: Report

Autopsy in Brazil casts doubt on murder charge against his wife



    Getty Images
    Cops believe the brunette stunner was able to strangle the Jersey City fighter because he was drunk after a night of partying.

    SAO PAULO — An autopsy indicates former boxing champion Arturo Gatti could have committed suicide, been accidentally killed or murdered, according to Jornal do Comercio newspaper on Saturday.

    Jornal do Comercio said it obtained a copy of the coroner's initial findings.

    Police have said from the beginning they are certain Gatti's 23-year-old wife strangled the boxer with her purse strap as he drunkenly slept on July 11, but the autopsy report raises some doubts.

    Gatti was found dead a week ago in the apartment he was renting with wife Amanda Rodrigues in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galinhas in the northeastern state of Pernambuco.

    In the state capital of Recife, Jornal do Comercio reported the autopsy findings said Gatti's body was "suspended and hanged, indicating he may have committed suicide."

    The autopsy report also said that "murder or accidental death" could not be ruled out. There was no explanation for "accidental death."

    Paula Cysneiros, the spokeswoman for the medical examiners office that performed the autopsy, would not confirm the newspaper's report.

    Police arrested Rodrigues on suspicion of murdering the former two-division champion. She maintains her innocence and is being held in a prison in Recife. She has not been charged — according to Brazilian law, police have until this Wednesday to hand over their findings to prosecutors, who will decide if charges are to be filed.

    Rodrigues told investigators she awoke and found her husband's body about 9 a.m. on July 11. She then called police.

    Investigators said she was the only suspect and they are certain she killed Gatti in the apartment where they and their 10-month-old son arrived for a second honeymoon. The boy was unhurt and was in the care of Rodrigues' family.

    Investigators said there was no sign of forced entry and that the electronic locks on the apartment indicated only Gatti and his wife had entered.

    Police said Gatti had marks on his throat, indicating he was strangled.

    Rodrigues' sister, Flavia, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo this week that there was "no way she could have strangled a man of that size."

    Rodrigues' attorney, Celio Avelino, told The Associated Press he agreed with Flavia's conclusion.

    "She is fragile, young and skinny — how could she kill a boxing champion?" Avelino said. "When she awoke, she presumed he had committed suicide. But she had nothing to do with it."

    Police also said there was a knife wound in the back of Gatti's head and displayed a small steak knife along with the bloodied, white purse strap — both found near his body.

    Citing the results of the autopsy, the newspaper said the wound "may have occurred when the body fell to the floor."

    Police have also said they think the crime scene had been altered before they arrived — indicating that Rodrigues could have tried to make it appear as if Gatti had committed suicide, police spokeswoman Milena Saraiva told the AP this week.

    Saraiva said the death may have even been premeditated and Rodrigues may have encouraged Gatti to drink excessively so she would be able to overpower him later.

    "He was very drunk and that made it easier for her," Saraiva theorized. "He was sleeping when she did this. She waited for the moment when he was drunk enough for her to do it."

    Rodrigues' lawyer, Celio Avelino, has insisted his client is innocent and has said he is certain the autopsy report would indicate that Gatti's death was a suicide.

    Rodrigues herself, in a handwritten letter she gave to the AP on Wednesday, said she didn't commit the crime.

    "I'm innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days," she wrote in the letter. She ended the note by addressing the couple's infant son, writing: "Junior — soon mama will be at home!"

    A funeral for Gatti will be held on Monday in Montreal.