Lem Satterfield

Friend says widow threatened to kill Gatti; probe concludes he was murdered

 

Amanda Rodrigues, the widow of late boxer Arturo Gatti, once said of the fighter, "If he thinks his exes were bitches, I’ll show him. I’m going to be the biggest bitch. I’m going to kill him," a friend of the Gatti family, Gisela Minero, testified in Quebec Superior Court on Wednesday where a battle over Gatti's multimillion dollar estate is transpiring.

According to a report by Montreal Gazette, Minero said Rodriges made her statements only months prior to Gatti's being found dead at the age of 37 on July 11, 2009 at an apartment he and his family had rented in the Brazilian seaside resort of Porto de Galihnas.

Gisela and Marisa Minero said the comments by Rodrigues were made in November, 2008, when they were returning with Rodrigues to a home she shared with Gatti at the time.

Rodrigues was reacting to a text from Gatti, said Gisela Minero.

Brazilian authorities initially said Rodrigues was a prime suspect in the case, but later released her when an autopsy in that country concluded Gatti had committed suicide.

That report said Gatti hanged himself with a handbag strap from a wooden staircase column in their apartment.

While Minero was testifying in court in Canada, a panel of forensic evidence experts led by Chicago-based investigator Paul Ciolino and hired by Gatti's former manager Pat Lynch revealed during an announcement in North Bergan, N.J., that they believe Gatti was murdered, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Their findings ended a private nearly 11-month long probe into Gatti's death.

On Tuesday, Ciolino told RingTV.com, "Certainly Amanda Rodrigues is a person of extreme interest in this case."

On Wednesday in New Jersey, Ciolino had stronger words regarding his perception of her role in Gatti's death.

"I will tell you that Amanda is the only one who had the motive, the opportunity and the means. She predicted that she would kill him today in Montreal," said Ciolino. "Two women got on the witness stand and they were talking about a conversation that they had with Amanda in November of 2008."

Rodrigues spent three weeks in a Brazilian jail as a suspect before being released.

"When she said, 'When I get him in Brazil, I will f—king kill him.' When someone says that they're going to kill somebody, and they wind up dead nine months later," said Ciolino, "they're usually the person that did it. She either has the worst luck in the world, or she did what she said she was going to do."

Lynch expressed optimism.

"We're extremely happy with the way the chain of events played out here in New Jersey. I was very impressed with the press conference went today, and the way that the experts presented themselves and all of the evidence," Lynch told RingTV.com.

"It was one thing reading the report, and then, to see the way that it was all played out today was unbelievable."

Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht told the Associated Press that the version of Gatti's case produced by the initial criminal investigation was "pure, unadulterated fiction."

"This case must be reopened if authorities in Brazil have an iota of moral, ethical and legal concern for their reputation," Wecht told the Associated Press.

"Dr. Wecht and his presentation, and all of the experts, again, they have nothing to gain by this. Their reputations are on the line," said Lynch.

"From the beginning, Paul Ciolino and [partner] Joe Moura, we told them that we accept their findings, whatever they are. We just wanted the truth. They laid it out today, and it was homicide, homicide, homicide, homicide."

Gatti’s family in Montreal had requested a delay in the trial so that it could study the findings of the probe.

"Like we felt from the beginning, that Arturo didn't take his own life, so our attorney from Brazil was there, and he's taking a report back to Brazil and we'll get it translated," said Lynch.

"It will be brought before a prosecutor and a judge in Brazil and hopefully, we'll start a deeper investigation The bottom line is to find out who murdered Arturo Gatti and who is responsible."

The family had hoped to introduce elements of the investigation into the Montreal court case, but presiding judge Justice Claudine Roy has ruled that the three-week trial must begin.

"Unequivocally today, we proved that this was a homicide. There is no question that this was anything but a homicide. I had seven of the most well-known experts come in today and every one of them unanimously said, 'This was a homicide,'" said Ciolino.

"There's no doubt about it. This guy was murdered. There is no more discussion about whether or not it's a suicide or anything else. Didn't happen, never happened, and anyone who says that it happened is either lying or they have an agenda separate from the truth."

Central to the civil case involving Gatti's estate is the validity of one will that was changed three weeks before his death and left everything to Rodrigues, and another from 2007 that Gatti’s family says is valid and leaves them his fortune.

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lem.satterfield@gmail.com

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