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Arturo Gatti's widow delivers tearful testimony at inheritance trial

09/16/2011 01:45 EDT | Updated 11/16/2011 05:12 EST
MONTREAL - Arturo Gatti's widow's rocky testimony concluded with her in tears as she was peppered with questions about her behaviour before and after the boxer's death.

Amanda Rodrigues capped a third day on the stand by sobbing through her final answers in the morning Friday and she did not return to court in the afternoon.

Her testimony contradicted several other witnesses who have offered different accounts of when she met the boxer, whether he intended to keep living with her before he died, and details of their life together in between.

Rodrigues broke down when the Gatti family lawyer asked why she wouldn't let her in-laws see their grandson, Arturo Jr.

Rodrigues is in a bitter dispute with the Gatti clan — represented by his mother Ida and brother Fabrizio — over who should get his $3.4 million fortune.

Rodrigues has a will, signed three weeks before the boxer's death in July 2009, that leaves his estate to her.

But the Gatti clan counters that he was pressured into signing that will and that a previous will, an unsigned one from 2007 that leaves everything to his family, is the valid one. They believe she should be declared ineligible to inherit the estate.

Rodrigues slammed the Gatti family in print after the boxer's death. She began to cry Friday when asked about her estrangement with the family and why she wouldn't let members see Arturo Jr.

She said she was scared they'd take her son because of their legal and personal battles following the death.

"It was hard for me. Ida thought I'd killed her son," Rodrigues said.

"I know I was not a perfect wife. I could have been better, I did a lot of bad things," the sobbing Rodrigues continued.

She testified that she never thought she'd end up alone.

Asked if she thought her former mother-in-law was simply driven by a desire for money, Rodrigues called Ida Gatti confused.

"She's in pain," Rodrigues said.

"She has no clue what's going on, she's being manipulated (by the family)."

The Gatti clan says it doesn't believe the conclusion of Brazilian authorities that he committed suicide.

Brazilian authorities are taking a second look at the case on the heels of a privately financed report by Gatti's manager; it classified his death as a homicide.

Rodrigues will return to the witness stand later. But if Rodrigues was emotional when discussing Ida Gatti, the sentiment was not reciprocal.

"She was not a good wife or mother," Ida Gatti testified Friday.

"If my son was drinking, whose fault was that? It was because of his wife."

The court also heard that some documents were found by a bailiff in Arturo Gatti's room at his mother's home and lawyers will inspect them on the weekend.

Arturo Gatti's widow says her husband informed the notary that prepared his 2009 will that he had no previous will.

A prenuptial agreement would have left Rodrigues with nothing if they divorced — not even alimony. But when the boxer died, amid their marital troubles, she was the sole heir in his latest will.

Even thought Gatti had a notary he used routinely, who worked just steps from their home and whom Rodrigues had twice used herself, she'd picked a different notary altogether.

Rodrigues testified that she plucked the name out of the phone book while searching for someone to write a travel letter for the couple's infant son.

Asked why she chose a different notary, Rodrigues replied: "I wanted to have my own."

She contradicted the notary's testimony that she came alone the first time, insisting she'd been with her husband during each visit.

Rodrigues said it was that notary, Bruce Moidel, who suggested wills. At the same time, Gatti also signed a separate fidelity agreement that would leave Rodrigues with $1 million if Gatti was ever unfaithful.

"I thought it was cute," Rodrigues said, regarding the fidelity document — a response that Justice Claudine Roy asked her to repeat.

Also Friday, Rodrigues told the court that she and Gatti were often together, despite a court order that banned them from being near each other. Gatti had been charged with domestic violence after one of their numerous disputes.

She also testified that on the day she keyed Gatti's truck following an argument as the ex-boxer and their son took refuge inside, the couple reconciled that very night and slept together.

The afternoon incident, which caused $4,000 in damages, was detailed in a police report Gatti filed that evening. The report referred to Rodigues as his ex-wife.

"I know it sounds ridiculous," Rodrigues replied when questioned about the incident by Gatti lawyer Carmine Mercadante. "That's how my relationship was — we were never mad at each other for too long."

A few days before Gatti's death at a Brazilian resort, Rodrigues says she had contacted the couple's financial advisor in New Jersey and asked him to wire $300,000 into a joint bank account because the couple planned to be in Brazil for a few months.

Rodrigues also insisted that she was supposed to move into a condominium . Gatti's friends have testified that he purchased that home only for himself and his son.

The court has heard that the day he made the offer on the $500,000 condo in Montreal's Little Italy district, a lawyer Gatti had retained called Rodrigues to inform her of his intention to divorce.

The trial continues next week.

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