RIO DE JANEIRO – Boxer Arturo Gatti's death was ruled a suicide by police Thursday and a a judge ordered the release of his wife, who was once suspected of killing the former champion.
Lead investigator Paulo Alberes told The Associated Press that authorities decided Gatti killed himself on July 11 while at a seaside resort in northeastern Brazil.
When asked if police had determined the case was a suicide, Alberes said "yes." He offered no other details.
A day after the 37-year-old Gatti was found dead, police said that his Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, had strangled him with her purse strap as he drunkenly slept.
But police began to back off the accusation about a week later after a coroner's report said Gatti may have killed himself as he was found "suspended and hanged." The autopsy report didn't exclude the possibility he was slain, but said he also could have died in an unexplained accident, besides killing himself.
"The police investigation concluded that Arturo killed himself," said Celio Avelino, Rodrigues' attorney. "I've said before it would have been impossible for her to suspend and hang a man of that size."
Judge Ildete Verissimo de Lima ordered the immediate release of the 23-year-old Rodrigues after receiving the police report.
The judge wrote in the ruling that police informed the court "the detention of the suspect was no longer needed" as the investigation "excludes the possibility of murder."
"The victim ... committed suicide by hanging," Lima's ruling read, referring to the police investigation findings.
Rodrigues will walk out of jail Thursday afternoon, said her lawyer, Avelino.
Gatti was found dead in the apartment he was renting with Rodrigues in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas. The pair arrived there a few days before Gatti's death 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.
From the accounts of Gatti's family and friends, the marriage with Rodrigues was tumultuous.
"She was yelling all the time, they were always fighting and she'd say 'I'm going to kill you!' when they fought," Gatti's mother, Ida, said in a telephone interview from Montreal shortly after her son's death.
According to records at the Court of Quebec's criminal and penal division, Gatti was charged on April 16 for violating a restraining order that had been filed against him. The records didn't indicate who filed the restraining order, but Gatti's mother confirmed that it was Rodrigues who had taken one out against him. She offered no other details.
In a July 15 letter she gave the AP from jail, Rodrigues insisted she is innocent.
"The people most important to my life, who know us, know the size of our love," she wrote. "What hurts me is knowing the suffering of my family and friends. What hurts me is to know that my husband will not be in my house waiting for my return."
Gatti, who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.
Gatti's family and friends in his adopted hometown of Montreal denied the boxer could have killed himself.
"I'm a little bit shocked, I can't believe it. I don't even know what to say," said Radka Baranaiova, the fiancee of Gatti's brother, Fabrizio.
At his July 20 funeral in Canada, others said there was no chance the Gatti — known for his brutal fighting style and ability to take relentless punishment yet still pull out a victory — would have killed himself.
"Nobody believes whatsoever that there's even a 1 percent chance of a suicide. He lived life to the fullest," Ivano Scarpa, a close Gatti family friend, said at the time.
But Rodrigues, in her letter from prison, said: "I'm innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days."