RIO DE JANEIRO – The wife of dead boxer Arturo Gatti will remain in jail pending a decision on her release request, a Brazilian judge ruled Monday, despite an autopsy report casting doubts on whether the fighter was murdered.
Police, meanwhile, are backing off earlier strong statements that Gatti's wife was unquestionably responsible for his death. Earlier they said she undoubtedly strangled him with her purse strap while he slept.
The lawyer for Amanda Rodrigues — whom police have said is the only suspect in the fighter's July 11 death — petitioned for her release via two legal channels.
Pernambuco state judge Fausto Campos denied the request but ruled that her writ of habeas corpus must be examined by a three-judge panel, likely next week, leaving open the possibility she will be freed.
Gatti was found dead in the apartment he was renting with Rodrigues in the seaside resort of Porto de Galinhas in Brazil's northeast. The pair, who had a tumultuous marriage, had arrived their a few days earlier for a second honeymoon. The couple brought their 10-month-old son, who was unhurt and is in the care of Rodrigues' family in Brazil.
On Saturday, authorities released an initial autopsy report that said Gatti could have died in an unexplained accident, been murdered, or committed suicide.
The report indicated Gatti died of asphyxiation after his body was "suspended and hanged."
Police said from the beginning they think Rodrigues strangled Gatti as he slept — and they have said they think the crime scene was altered before Rodrigues reported Gatti's death.
Her attorney, however, said the fact Gatti's body was found suspended proved his client's innocence.
"The report comes to tell the truth," Rodrigues' attorney, Celio Avelino, told The Associated Press. "The report said he was hanged. She could never suspend and hang a man that size."
Rodrigues, in a handwritten note given to the AP last week, proclaimed her innocence and said it would be proven within days.
Police inspector Paulo Alberes said he could no longer comment on the case until the investigation was complete — an abrupt reversal from the numerous and detailed statements investigators have given about Gatti's death.
"I cannot tell you anything, I cannot confirm that she is a suspect," Alberes said. "I can tell you that she is still imprisoned as of right now. That is it."
The investigator said police hope to have their final report prepared by next week. Earlier, a judge had said the initial investigation report needed to be handed over to prosecutors by this Wednesday, but police received an extension on that deadline.
In Canada, about 1,000 people turned out for Gatti's funeral, held in his adopted hometown of Montreal.