"48 Hours": The trials of Arturo Gatti's widow
(CBS) - Amanda Gatti is 25 years old, but she has lived through more drama and survived more trauma than many women twice her age. She's been called a killer, a slut and a gold digger. The truth is, she is none of these, but may never be able to get her good name back. Fans and friends of her husband simply can't accept that her husband, the great boxer Arturo Gatti, gave up on life and killed himself.
In July of 2009, Arturo Gatti was found dead in a pool of blood in the kitchen of a condo the couple had rented in Brazil. Amanda was initially arrested for his murder, but after Brazilian authorities ruled Gatti's death a suicide, she was released. But that wasn't the end of her problems. Her husband's family sued her. Her husband's ex-girlfriend, the mother of his daughter, sued Amanda. Arturo's manager and lawyer, Pat and John Lynch, hired a team of private eyes to investigate her.
I first met Amanda Gatti a year ago in the small town in Brazil where she lives after we, along with a team from the CBC, began our own investigation into the death of Arturo Gatti. I had heard so many stories: that she had tricked her husband into changing his will just weeks before his death. That she abused her husband, hitting him and calling him names. That she had hired hit men in her native Brazil to kill Arturo. The real Amanda Gatti was nothing like I expected. She was open with us, appeared to be without guile and desperately trying to clear her name. She was honest about her failings and did all the interviews with us without lawyers or limits.
The more we investigated the case, the more we discovered that most of the rumors about Arturo Gatti's death were, in fact, rumors and nothing more. One of our producers, Josh Yager, tracked down the taxi drivers and spectators in the Brazilian resort town of Porto de Galinhas who saw Amanda with her husband the night of his death. They confirmed that Arturo Gatti, drunk and depressed, had gotten into a fight that evening and was hit and injured in the back of his head by a stranger. There was blood in the cab that Gatti took back to the condo that night.
While there is little question that the initial Brazilian police investigation into Gatti's death was poorly conducted, forensics and tests done on the boxer's body also support Amanda Gatti's innocence. Gatti was found on the floor after the purse strap he had used to hang himself broke. His body had the kind of lividity, or pooling of the blood, known as "boots and gloves", that usually only occurs when a body is hanging for a substantial period of time. There was no sign that Arturo Gatti had been drugged nor is there evidence that anyone else entered the condominium at the time of Arturo's death. There was also no evidence that Amanda Gatti had any contact with so-called hit men.
Instead, the evidence shows that Arturo Gatti had been in an emotional downward spiral for months. Years of brutal matches had left him in constant pain. He was taking medication and drinking excessively and often got into fights. In one altercation in Florida, Gatti hit a man so hard, he allegedly left him with serious brain injuries. Even Gatti's own brother, Joe, believes that Arturo, at such a low point emotionally, finally did what he had threatened to do in the past and killed himself.
Since July 2009, Amanda Gatti has been telling anyone who will listen that she had nothing to do with her husband's death. Nearly three years later, authorities are beginning to hear and believe her.
In the estate case filed in Quebec, Montreal by Arturo Gatti's family who wanted to control his estate, after a long bitter battle last fall, the judge ruled completely in Amanda Gatti's favor. There was no evidence, the judge said, that Amanda had tricked her husband into drawing up the new will. Amanda Gatti got her husband's estate; his family, nothing.
What's more, the Coroner in Quebec who had in 2009 conducted a second autopsy on Arturo Gatti's body finally released his findings last fall. In the absence of evidence of foul play, he ruled, Gatti's death is determined to be a suicide.
And then earlier this year, even more good news for Mrs. Gatti: the wrongful death suit filed by her husband's ex-girlfriend on behalf of his daughter in New Jersey was thrown out.
In February, I caught up with Amanda Gatti again. She told me that she is finally feeling hopeful that she will be vindicated in the public's mind, but, the truth is, her problems are not over yet.
The conclusions of the investigation launched by Arturo Gatti's trainer, Pat Lynch, were released last September, implicating Amanda Gatti in her husband's death. While that private investigation has been criticized by Canadian and Brazilian authorities for ignoring critical evidence, it did convince a Brazilian prosecutor to keep the case open. Brazilian police chief Paulo Alberes told "48 Hours" this week that it is not likely new charges will be brought against Amanda Gatti. He says that no one, not even the hired American private detectives, can show any evidence of how Amanda Gatti could have killed her husband. Still, the truth is, as long as the case is officially "open', Arturo Gatti's widow will live under a cloud of suspicion.
And there is one other development that threatens all that Amanda Gatti has fought for: this spring, the civil suit of the Florida man who claims that a Gatti punch left him permanently damaged, goes to trial. If he wins, it could cost Amanda every penny Arturo Gatti left her.
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