Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - Page 19 News List

My innocence will be proven, Gatti’s wife tells reporters

AP , RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Arturo Gatti’s wife, accused of strangling the champion boxer with her purse strap, proclaims her innocence and love for her dead husband in a letter given to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

While declining to be interviewed from her jail cell in the northeastern Brazil city of Recife, Amanda Rodrigues did hand over a letter written on white, lined paper and penned in red ink.

“This is a pain that has become inexplicable and intolerable, this loss and this malicious accusation,” Rodrigues wrote. “I lost my husband!”

The 23-year-old Rodrigues told investigators she awoke on Saturday about 6am to find her husband’s body in the apartment they rented in Porto de Galinhas, a seaside resort in Pernambuco state. She then called police.

But investigators said she was the only suspect and they are certain she killed Gatti in the apartment where they and their 10-month-old son arrived for a second honeymoon last week. The boy was unhurt and was in the care of Rodrigues’ family.

“I’m innocent and I know that this will be proven in a few days,” Rodrigues wrote.

But those who knew Gatti and Rodrigues in the US and Canada have said their relationship was rocky at best.

“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, told the AP by phone from Montreal.

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.

Gatti’s stepfather, Geraldo DiFrancesco, said the pair fought, but that he “was surprised” it went as far as Gatti’s death. “You can never expect something like that to happen.”

Chuck Zito, an actor and friend of Gatti who met the boxer 13 years ago and accompanied him to the ring for several of his most notable fights, said he knew the couple was having problems.

“Things were real rocky. They were rocky between them from the beginning,” Zito said. “He said they were probably going to get a divorce.”

Rodrigues, however, sketched a different picture in her letter.

“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.”

In her letter, Rodrigues remained optimistic, writing to her son: “Junior — soon mama will be at home!”

An autopsy report on Gatti was due to be released within days.

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