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NORTH BERGEN, N.J. -- Former WBC junior welterweight champion Arturo Gatti did not commit suicide, but was murdered, an independent team of criminal and medical experts said Wednesday in North Bergen, N.J.
"This was a homicide; Arturo Gatti was murdered," lead criminal investigator Joseph M. Moura said. "I will defend this case for the rest of my life.
|Dr. Alfred Bowles is part of an independent team of medical and criminal experts who claim Arturo Gatti didn't commit suicide, but was in fact murdered.|
"Arturo Gatti did not commit suicide."
Gatti was found dead July 11, 2009, by his wife, Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, on the kitchen floor of a condominium the couple rented in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil. Police believed that only Rodrigues Gatti and the couple's 10-month-old son were in the apartment with Gatti
There was also no sign of forced entry into the apartment. Rodrigues Gatti was arrested shortly afterward, but later released when authorities determined Gatti had hung himself.
But after an independent 10-month investigation, a team of experts put together by Gatti's longtime friend and manager, Pat Lynch, claims local police failed to properly investigate Gatti's death.
The team's findings say that the purse strap allegedly used by Gatti to hang himself was neither long enough to wrap around his 18-inch neck, nor strong enough to support his body weight.
In addition, investigators claim police failed to test blood-stained towels that were left on the kitchen counter.
While the experts hint at Rodrigues Gatti possibly acting alone, their evidence suggests that she likely had an accomplice.
The experts point to a blunt force laceration at the back of Gatti's head to support their theory. They say that Gatti could not have caused that injury to himself. Instead, someone had to assault him.
"In my opinion, he was attacked by another person that resulted in a blunt force laceration to the back of his head and then he was strangled," forensic scientist Brent E. Turvey said. "He died in the location where he was [found]."
Finally, investigators claim money was the motivation that led to Gatti's death. They have no doubt that Rodrigues Gatti had the fighter murdered to collect more than $7 million from his estate.
"If she was [in the condo] alone, who committed the homicide?" investigator Paul J. Ciolino said. "He was murdered because he had some dough.
"It's the oldest motive in the world."
Amanda makes Anna Nicole Smith look like June Cleaver.” -- Investigator Paul J. Ciolino on Amanda Rodrigues Gatti, whom Ciolino and colleagues consider an "extreme person of interest" in the death of her late husband, Arturo Gatti
Gatti's final will leaves his estate to Rodrigues Gatti. That will is being challenged by Gatti's family members in a Montreal civil court.
"Amanda is an extreme person of interest in this case," Ciolino said. "The Brazilians, to my knowledge, are not looking at any other person.
"Amanda makes Anna Nicole Smith look like June Cleaver."
On Wednesday, Rodrigues Gatti told the Canadian Press she still believed her husband took his own life.
"I know it was [a suicide]. It would be easier for me to explain to myself that it wasn't a suicide, but I'm positive it was."
Gatti made a name for himself as an action-packed boxer. His trilogy with Micky Ward is regarded among the best in boxing history.
Besides the WBC junior welterweight title, Gatti also held the IBF super featherweight crown. He had a professional career record of 40-9.
Gatti, a Canadian who resided in Jersey City, N.J., during his professional boxing career, was 37 years old when he died.
Franklin McNeil covers boxing and mixed martial arts for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.