NORTH BERGEN, N.J. -- Former junior welterweight champion Arturo Gatti was murdered two years ago in Brazil, a panel of forensic evidence experts said Wednesday as it presented the results of a 10-month investigation initiated to challenge the official version that Gatti committed suicide.
"This case must be reopened if authorities in Brazil have an iota of moral, ethical and legal concern for their reputation," said noted forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, who termed the version produced by the initial criminal investigation "pure, unadulterated fiction."
Brazilian authorities initially considered Gatti's wife a prime suspect and arrested her, but released her soon after and concluded Gatti had hung himself with a handbag strap.
Eduardo Trindade, a lawyer assisting Gatti's family, said Wednesday he would have the panel's report translated and presented to prosecutors in Brazil within the next month or two and would push for an indictment of Amanda Rodrigues Gatti.
While no one at Wednesday's news conference explicitly accused her of being involved in murder, several speakers stopped barely short of that.
"If she was there alone, who committed the homicide?" said Paul Ciolino, a Chicago-based investigator hired by Pat Lynch, Gatti's former manager. "He was murdered because he had some dough. It's the oldest motive in the world."
Amanda Gatti is involved in a legal battle with Gatti's family over her late husband's fortune, estimated at $6 million by Ciolino. A civil trial is under way in Canada.
Using crime scene photos, interviews and autopsy reports as well as computer-generated simulations, the team of experts challenged the official version on numerous fronts.
A severe laceration on the back of Gatti's head couldn't have happened during a fall to the floor, and the position he was found in, with his head halfway wedged under a cabinet, was not consistent with a hanging, they said. In addition, the handbag strap he allegedly used wasn't strong enough to hold 78 pounds for more than a few seconds, far shorter than the several hours alleged by police based on interviews with Amanda Gatti.
The laceration was caused by a blunt instrument and could have incapacitated Gatti before he was strangled, Wecht said.
Two hand towels covered with blood, presumably from the head injury, were never tested by Brazilian authorities, according to Brent Turvey, an Alaska-based forensic scientist.
The Italian-born, Canadian-raised Gatti developed a large following in New Jersey, where he lived and trained beginning in the early 1990s. Nicknamed "Thunder," he fought some of his most memorable fights at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall, including a trilogy of slugfests with fellow 140-pounder Micky Ward beginning in 2002 that endeared him to fans. Some of those bouts played on TV monitors on the walls of Global Boxing Gym during Wednesday's news conference.